Empire editorial: Green's balking a poor example of leadership

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2007

Senate President Lyda Green showed little political courage last week when she refused to poll her fellow senators about where to hold the fall special session on the petroleum profits tax.

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Her decision smacks of political self-interest. As a Wasilla Republican, it's not in her interest to do anything that would allow the session to be held in Juneau. A number of senators have publicly declared their preference for holding the session in the capital, so it's possible the Senate might have voted decisively in favor of Juneau, just as the House did a week earlier.

This would have closed the door on the issue, but instead Green ducked the issue and basically told the governor that if she wanted to know where senators stood on the issue, she could ask them herself.

Green passed the buck to Gov. Sarah Palin, who is now likely to conduct a poll of the senators on her own.

Palin isn't acting unilaterally like her unpopular predecessor, who often moved ahead without consulting the Legislature. The governor asked legislators to weigh in on the question over the session's venue when she could have announced a site on Aug. 3.

And despite Green's assertion that this decision rests with the governor, it's to Palin's credit that she still wants to hear from the entire Senate on the issue.

House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, also said he believed it was up to the governor to decide the session's location. But Harris also polled his fellow House members, who voted by more than a 2-to-1 margin for the capital.

When the representatives voted, many said Juneau had the equipment and support staff needed to hold a session as long and complex as one on the oil tax.

It's time that we hear from the Senate and move beyond focusing on the session's location. Had Green cooperated with the governor, we might already be concentrating on the real issue at hand.

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