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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

DEMOCRATIC Sen. Tim Eichenberg Effectively Kills Domestic Partnership Bill

Tim Eichenberg: Traitor to Democratic values

In a joint meeting of the Senate Public Affairs and Senate Judiciary Committee today, the SPAC voted to pass SB 183, the domestic partnership bill.

However, Democratic Sen. Tim Eichenberg took up much time in the committee discussion by repeatedly raising spurious questions about what it would cost to implement the bill and suggesting that the State of New Mexico wasn't in a position to afford it. GOP Sen. Mark Boitano picked up on this embarrassing and dishonest diversionary tactic and he made a motion to have the bill referred to a third committee -- the Senate Finance Committee, where "conservatives" abound. The motion passed only because Sen. Eichenberg voted for it, thus effectively killing the domestic partnership bill this session. Even if the bill were looked upon favorably by the SFC, there isn't enough time left in the session to get it through two more committees. Eichenberg knew this when he voted for the referral. He no doubt reveled in his duplicity.

Apparently Sen. Eichenberg thinks he is clever beyond belief because he voted yes for the bill but also voted to refer it to the SFC to effectively kill it.

What makes Eichenberg's action even more despicable is that the Legislative Finance Committee provided a financial impact report (FIR) that estimated a minimal cost of $50,000 for implementation if the bill passed into law. Sen. Eichenberg, however, raised doubts about the accuracy and clarity of the FIR and kept acting like he was very confused and oh so concerned about protecting the State of New Mexico from the horrible financial burden of providing basic civil rights to me and my partner of 20 years. And yet, no doubt, Sen. Eichenberg sees himself as a fair, honest, caring human being. I beg to differ.

Sen. Eichenberg did not argue against the DP bill on any substantive points of law. He raised questions he knew were absurd and then voted with the Republicans on the SPAC to kill the bill's chances based on an absurd claim that the vast, vast costs of implementing the law would wipe out the finances of New Mexico. Don't make me laugh.

I'm sure Sen. Eichenberg is, as I type, laughing out loud at the clever trick he pulled to show "them" that he's a big, tough, cagey guy. Sorry, Senator, all of us with any shred of intelligence coupled with conscience see you now for what you are -- a dishonest, mean-spirited farce.

I wonder how much Sen. Eichenberg thinks HIS civil rights are worth in dollars and sense. Given his oh so passionate concern about cost, perhaps he should introduce a bill to ban divorce. Think of what heterosexual divorce costs the state in any given year. Can we afford it?

February 2, 2010 at 05:22 PM in Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2010 | Permalink


Call Sen. Tim Eichenberg! District 15
Capitol phone: (505)986-4859 Office phone: (505)710-1305 Email: tim.eichenberg@nmlegis.gov

Posted by: mary ellen | Feb 2, 2010 5:52:37 PM

What a creepy, dishonest excuse for a Democrat. Shame on him.

Posted by: Brad | Feb 2, 2010 5:53:36 PM

I listened to the hearing. I don't get why Dede Feldman couldn't have operated in a way to stop this kind of motion getting on the floor. She sounded confused as hell. Wake up legislators! It's our civil rights on the line not some helmet law

Posted by: RP | Feb 2, 2010 6:11:56 PM

Don't blame me, I supported John Blair in the primary for that seat.

Posted by: SCC | Feb 2, 2010 7:00:57 PM

Tim has been with us on marriage equality in the past. So, anyone with the inside scoop care to explain why he killed this bill?

Posted by: PhoenixRising | Feb 2, 2010 8:13:28 PM

Why did he kill the bill? Maybe he is mad because he was told he isn't a viable candidate for Lieutenant Governor? Gee, guess what Tim, 4 of the 5 current Democratic candidates are going to turn out to be not viable. That's politics for you.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Feb 2, 2010 8:59:02 PM

He's getting back at Bill Richardson. He's mad he had no support as a Lt. Guv candidate. He bad mouthed Denish when he realized this, at a public meeting with Janice Arnold Jones. He said he wasn't going to waste millions of dollars to get in a race Denish would lose. He voted for DP when he knew it would fail as there was a different strategy for defeating it last year.

The way he sounded at today's hearing he could very well be a closet gay himself.

Posted by: Lola | Feb 2, 2010 9:00:56 PM

Brought to you by the geniuses who said that we had to go with a closet R like Tim Eichenberg for that seat. Thank you, Neri Holguin Consulting, Inc.

Posted by: Progressive Dem | Feb 2, 2010 9:08:48 PM

Shit, that's right, commenter above. I also blame lobbyist Linda Siegel and EQNM for falling for that crap from the Church that made them do that 800 page bill. How naive are they to think the Church would keep its word? That gave the opening to Eichenberg to claim it was too complicated for his feeble mind.

Why would you bring the bill before the committee if you knew you don't have the votes? They trusted Eichenberg and he screwed them and us royal.

Posted by: Keez | Feb 2, 2010 9:24:42 PM

Eichenberg is a lying prick. Oh he did what he promised-he voted for the DP bill. But then he voted to make sure it dies.

Every year is the same thing-different tactic. The Democratic leadership doesn't want to pass this and they engineer a way every year to achieve that. And yes, then there's the dumbshit lobbying team.

Posted by: Lola | Feb 2, 2010 9:34:24 PM

Let's go back to Senator Eichenberg's election campaign and take note that money from gay organizations was given to his Republican opponent who was no friend of ours. And yet he still voted for the DP bill last year.
Yes, he did bring up the financial issues in the hearing but in this tight tight budget year, with numbers from several sources that were in conflict, why didn't the "lobbyist" for EQNM make sure that the votes were solid and that there were no outstanding concerns? Or is this just another case of an inability to count?!?!

Posted by: I M Dunn | Feb 2, 2010 10:05:41 PM

The New Mexico legislative process still baffles me. This is it?!? Do they have to start from scratch next time? What do we do from here?

Posted by: Loralee | Feb 2, 2010 11:26:44 PM

What to do next? Well, unless the "Do Pass" report of either SPAC or (presumed Do Pass) of SJC--SB 183 is on their agenda for 2pm this afternoon--is challenged on the Senate floor, it goes to the SFC, where John Arthur Smith is likely to be as annoyed with Eichenberg as we are. "Dr. NO" will have to be lobbied to get him to even put it on the committee agenda. If I were him, I would refuse to even allow any testimony and just have a vote. Unfortunately that vote is likely to be to table.

So it can be killed two ways--just never make it onto the agenda, or be on the agenda but tabled.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Feb 3, 2010 7:18:01 AM

The Senate may not allow it to go to the Finance Committee. Tim is on Judiciary so someone better be talking to him about his concerns over funding ASAP and get his questions answered. Also, people jumping on him and calling him names before he has to vote on the DP bill again, doesn't help our cause...JUST TALK TO HIM and stop bashing him. And remember...there are two others on Judiciary that are a REAL problem...anyone talking to them?
Bashing them last year ALSO did not help us for the vote this year. It is time we start behaving better than our opponents. Hateful talk doesn't help anyone's cause.

Posted by: I M Dunn | Feb 3, 2010 7:58:35 AM

Whoever M Dunn is- you are a lying sack. LGBT people supported Eichenberg in his campaign against Snyder and you know it. He said he was on our side but he lied as all the supposedly upright, moral males do when they're put to the test with real people's lives and dignity at stake.

YOU talk to him M Dunn. His "concerns" about the cost of this bill are a joke-a sham. Who are you to say you are one of "us"? You're probably Tim himself or one of his "conservative" supporters. You go beg creepy Eichenberg like a supplicant. That's what he wants-attention, like a sick little boy.

You think it's justifiable to question the LFC analysis? Don't make me laugh. People like you are to blame for not having the gumption to speak truth to power. You have no dignity.

Posted by: Lola | Feb 3, 2010 8:36:43 AM

My question is why wasn't Linda Siegel prepared with the original short bill to introduce as a substitute when Eichenberg started his pathetic attack on the long bill written as directed by the Church? Why wasn't the bill tabled until the cost info requested by Eichenberg was stuck into his grubby little hands? There is NO big expense connected with this bill and he knows it. And don't forget George Munoz the crooked rep from Gallup who votes no. He's barely literate

Posted by: KS | Feb 3, 2010 8:45:57 AM

Get your facts straight, Lola. The Equality PAC made NO endorsement in the Senate race and Gill Action funneled money indirectly to to his Republican opponenet. Yes, individuals supported Tim...that is very true...but those that proclaim themselves as leaders of the LGBT community were very clearly absent from that race.
All that being said...the reality is that the lobbyists for EQNM have lost votes in the Senate each year since the DP bill was first heard. It is time to take this out of the legislature's hands and litigate for full marriage equality.

Posted by: I M Dunn | Feb 3, 2010 9:07:19 AM

The "leaders" you cite aren't leaders in the LGBT community here. They have merely usurped the power and keep everyone else out of the decision making. They are secretive and dishonest. They ignore all suggestions from outside their little circle. They need to be discredited for the horrible job they have done. We need new blood and new approaches. Linda Siegel is a laughing stock.

PS The Gill Action Fund is not from NM. What were gay people here supposed to do to stop them? Rank and file LGBT Dem and our supporters DID work for Eichenberg's election. Are you saying that Eichenberg is justified in fucking over the civil rights of all of us in the state because of something the Gill Foundation did?

Posted by: Concerned | Feb 3, 2010 9:46:24 AM

I M Dunn is correct. Below is a quote from Senator Wirth (courtesy of the Roswell Daily Record):

But the issue of whether the bill will actually be sent to another committee will likely be the topic of some debate today.

“We’re going to have a procedural discussion on the floor regarding this and my hope is to convince my colleagues on the Senate floor that it doesn’t need to go to finance,” said Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, who introduced the legislation. “There will probably be a discussion (today).”

The Senate is slated to reconvene at 10:30 a.m. today.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Feb 3, 2010 9:46:51 AM

Well, I can only report on my own conversations with Tim about marriage equality, as I've never discussed this or any other DP bill. He favors equality, but would prefer not to sacrifice his seat for it.

Does that make him a lying traitor? Someone probably ought to ask the people who wrote and ran this bill whether he ever told them he was a Yes vote. And if the reports on the 2008 race reflect the concerns raised above--I'm not taking anonymous claims as fact, but I will check and get back with results--then we have a strategy problem.

You can't withhold support from a candidate and fund his opponent and expect his vote. Right and wrong don't enter into it, that just not very practical.

Posted by: PhoenixRising | Feb 3, 2010 9:47:09 AM

While there was nothing that could prevent Gill from funneling money to Snyder, Equality PAC could have made the decision not to remain neutral.

This is not to say that I agree with Eichenberg's vote, but the decisions made during the election affected the relationship the eqnm lobbyist could establish with the senator. Dunn & Phoenix have legitimate questions, did the lobbyists ever talk to him to make sure he didn't have concerns and did he promise he was a yes vote?

Posted by: Litigate Already | Feb 3, 2010 10:23:00 AM

Lose his seat? He voted yes on domestic partnerships last time. You don't think that will be used by his opponents? I find your analysis lacking Phoenix. Many progressives, all of whom support DP, supported Tim. Yet you think we should be responsible for some claimed Gill Foundation contribution?

Why are you defending Eichenberg? Maybe someone should ask him about the many reports that he comes on to women in Santa Fe and ask him to explain his morality on that point.

Posted by: Librul | Feb 3, 2010 10:26:18 AM

I'm not defending him, I'm asking questions. I'm a constituent, and I've talked to him about equality--not about DP, not this bill or any other bill.

Maybe he was super-interested in my good opinion, but he sure seemed like a typical Democrat to me--assuming my support because hey, where are we gonna go?

That's the basis for my analysis of his statements, not something I don't know about from Gill or whoever.

The question is still: Who is responsible for the bill? ACLU, EQNM or both? Who talked to him and got his word that he would support this bill?

If the answer is 'no one', I think we have the right to know that. If he said he would vote yes, then go after him.

But the history of our so-called 'lobbying strategy' makes me want to be very clear about who is the lying traitor before I start slinging accusations at a sitting senator, whose vote we still need on Sharer's DOMA.

Let me repeat that: We still need his vote against the constitutional amendment IF it's heard by SPAC.

Posted by: PhoenixRising | Feb 3, 2010 10:56:03 AM

I know there is much anger against Eichenberg right now and justifiably so. Phoenix makes some very good points though. More blame needs to be put on the "lobbying team" for not creating and executing an effective lobbying plan and falling down on the job of communicating with Senators, lgbt supporters and the public. This has now become a pattern as each session brings worse outcomes. Does anyone on the EQNM board approve the strategy or have input into it? Who is running EQNM now? It seems like a broken organization but it is hard to get the facts.

I don't agree that we need Eichenberg's vote against Sharer's DOMA. Richardson would veto it in a minute and it would never pass the House.

Who controls the Equality PAC?

I agree we should turn out attention to litigation and abandon this farce run by the same old same olds.

Posted by: Litigate NOW is right | Feb 3, 2010 11:14:54 AM

We can all sit around and blame Eichenberg for killing the bill, but I am hard pressed to believe that the bill was going to pass anyway. We were told last year that we had the votes and then lost 25-17, a spectacular feat on the part of the lobbyists considering we gained two supportive senators in the election (3 if we were counting Eichenberg last year) and the fact that the bill lost by only one vote in 2007.

Why are we so scared to take the issue of marriage to the courts?

Posted by: Litigate Already | Feb 3, 2010 11:22:20 AM

No, the governor doesn't touch amendments. They go through both houses on a simple majority of those present and then to the ballot.

It's a hell of a long shot to get past the House, agreed, but we're better off killing it early.

We expect Eichenberg's support to kill it, but that's based on meeting with him and ASKING for his vote--not his being a Democrat or past votes on DP or this vote on DP. (I always assume nothing and start with a blank vote count, but I'm not a professional at this. Just a volunteer.)

Otherwise, agreed...this plan to pass a DP bill seems to have gotten bogged down.

Posted by: Just New Mexico | Feb 3, 2010 11:29:48 AM

That's right about amendments. I agree with those saying litigation is the only way. Too many legislators are clowns and EQNM and the lobbyists have done a shamefully bad job. All that money people gave, and for what?

Posted by: Rhonda | Feb 3, 2010 12:07:47 PM

I'm not even sure I want domestic partnerships anymore. They were great 5 years ago but now we are fully aware that they represent something separate and unequal. We constantly hear the dom part bill is a marriage bill so why not go for the real thing?

Posted by: Josh | Feb 3, 2010 3:40:28 PM

I am a member of EQNM and I have no idea what their strategy was or what happened during the hearing or why. They operate without any transparency or accountability. I don't know how to change them except to cut off funds. We don't even get a clear accounting of where donations go. Remember all that money they "lost" last year?

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 3, 2010 3:50:43 PM

Yesterday's joint committee meeting was frustrating to say the least. It was hard not to yell or curse from the gallery (and not get expelled by the Sgt at Arms). This is such an emotionally charged issue, and I too am incredibly pissed; however, it's imperative that we try to maintain some unity instead of becoming a cannibalistic krewe.

If you have specific questions about EQNM's fiscal reports or finance issues, please e-mail me at matthew@eqnm.org. For about a year now, I've worked (as a volunteer) as EQNM's Treasurer and may be able to address your concerns.

Posted by: G. Matthew | Feb 3, 2010 5:13:28 PM

Eichenberg is typical of the slime we elect in New Mexico. A state rife with third-world-politics where politicos are armed with a knife in one hand and a spiritual book of lies in the other. They will get you with either. Just another very sad instance of social inequality where the right is, as usual, horribly wrong. This, from a very straight 40 year military vet.

Posted by: Bonski | Feb 4, 2010 1:35:02 PM

This was the same tactic used in Corp & Transport Committee to send SB10 to Finance. Perhaps Tim E. will attempt to veil this vote behind a "yes" on the floor. Don't let him get away with it! I see a new member of the Shannon Robinson Club on the horizon.

Posted by: Charlie B | Feb 15, 2010 7:12:18 PM