This is the 19th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Dorothy Eck, a delegate to the Montana Constitutional Convention in 1972 and later a state senator for 20 years, speaking on “The Right to Know and the Montana Constitution.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it begins:
“My political life in Montana really started in the late ’40s when my husband was hired to teach architecture at the University in Bozeman. We had come from Washington with two small children and absolutely loved Montana. We loved the mountains and the rivers and we liked to fish and go camping and we found that the schools were wonderful and it was a good place to be a part of the university community.
“But as soon as a political campaign started, I found Montana really did have a problem. We were known as the state that wore the Copper Collar. We were controlled by the Anaconda Company.”
Here is another, edited excerpt from Eck’s presentation:
“Additionally we put up with the newspapers, which were mostly all controlled by the Anaconda Company. I can remember in the middle of campaign season the front page of the newspaper would have great pictures and stories about who was running for prom queen, but almost nothing about who was running for the Legislature or other public offices.
“I countered this in a way and joined the League of Women Voters. The League at that time chose political issues to study. Yet it really wasn’t easy getting information on our chosen issues. In those days the bills came running off the mimeograph machine and you would have to pick up a pile of bills, skim through them, see which of them were relevant to the League’s positions, and then decide to act accordingly. We also found that we could show up at committee hearings and members would listen to us. However the Executive Committee meetings of the various committees were all closed, no public allowed. No minutes were taken. There was no idea of who voted for or against the bills you were interested in.
“That was a problem.”
PERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit perc.org.
First week: Project introduction.
Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”
Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”
Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”
Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”
Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”
11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”
13th week: Bruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”
Next week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”