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A house divided

Monday was a sad day in and for Alaska.

Deeply divided by a series of actions by the governor, Alaska’s Legislature splintered.

Most legislators met for the start of the special session Monday in Alaska’s Capitol. A minority met briefly in a Wasilla middle school.

That’s about 560 miles as the raven flies, but the gap between these two groups seems a lot wider — and the metaphorical bridges are burning.

It’s enough to make this governor smile. A Legislature in disarray is a legislature unlikely to override the governor’s vetoes. Massive vetoes like axing $130 million from the University of Alaska. Smaller vetoes that kill services to seniors, children and the less fortunate. Spiteful and constitutionally dangerous vetoes to court system funding for doing its job. All stand if the Legislature can not or will not act.

The question is, will the Legislature exhibit enough leadership to pull itself together? That’s increasingly been the question since leadership went missing from the governor’s office on Dec. 3.

Leadership isn’t dropping budget bombs from great height and leaving others to sort through the rubble. Those bombs are starting to detonate, and Alaska needs leaders on the ground that can minimize the damage and ensure what remains can function. Legislators who recognize they have a duty as an independent and co-equal branch of government. Have we enough leaders to restore a functional Legislature?

Time will tell. And the clock is ticking.