Friday, August 01, 2014

Something For Both the NM Optimists And Pessimists This Week; We Talk The Tesla Tease, The Spaceport And Go To The Movies: Plus: It's Anchor Away 

It was one of those weeks in which there was something for both the New Mexico optimists and pessimists to latch onto.

The down-in-the-dumps crowd got glum when they heard that the Great Tesla Tease had been partially resolved as the electric car maker announced it had broken ground for its giant battery gigafactory in Reno, Nevada--not Albuquerque New Mexico. But the optimists clung to hope, saying Tesla will break ground on another site before picking the finalist and that second site could be little 'ol us. . .

The ultimate optimist (or reality denier) in all of this was ABQ Economic Development Department director Gary Oppedahl. In an odd statement he asserted: "Even if Tesla doesn’t pick here, the good news is that we’ve had lots of interest, and this is the best thing that could have happened.”

No, Gary. The best thing that "could have happened" is Tesla announcing it is coming here. . .

From day one Senior Alligators here pinpointed Reno as the front-runner for the gigafactory for a variety of reasons such as proximity to the car maker's California manufacturing plant but they also pointed to something no other media here has--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Senator would love nothing more than the over 6,000 gigafactory jobs as he eyes a 2016 re-election bid. With Reno getting the initial nod, he's halfway there. . . .

When it came to that other potential economic game changer hanging over the state's head the optimists were out in force. Virgin Galactic did another test drive of its vehicle designed to get tourists into suborbital space from the southern NM Spaceport. The project is now a decade old, but the glass half full crowd is now swearing that Sir Richard Branson's company will launch this year. The pessimists say not so fast, noting that one recent test does not a launch make. And you'd be crazy to bet against the doom and gloomers with that ten year streak of winning predictions under their belts. . . .

Pessimists came back to the fore as a fundamental element of the state's economic future hit the headlines--the price of oil.  The wires reported that benchmark U.S. crude fell $2.10 to close at $98.17 a barrel in New York, its lowest level since March 17. Oil's high for the year was $107.26, on June 20; its low was $91.66, set on January 9.

This could be the start of the long-awaited but much delayed Bear Market in oil prices, howled the Cassandras. If they are finally right this time, it will be of major interest as over a third of state government revenue is pouring in from oil and natural gas royalties. The optimists were not buying the Bear scenario. Even if oil plunged to 75 bucks NM would be just fine, they argued. However, they don't talk too much about what happens if it goes to $60 a pop. . .


Reader and film buff Eric Lucero has been escaping the muggy days of July in the cool environs of the local movie house. He plans to do the same as we usher in August. If you've got the same idea, he has this suggestion:

There is one worthy “new” film, in a sea of “holdovers” that your readers will enjoy. "A Most Wanted Man" (R) (4.5 out of 5 stars) is Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman's final starring role. And what an outstanding role and performance it is. The Most Wanted Man, offers a very taunt, raw, emotional, and visceral piece of recent history as a Chechen Muslim illegally immigrates to Hamburg, where he gets caught in the international war on terror. It is two hours of human drama based on John le Carré's 2008 book without excessive special effects and the usual perfunctory explosions. 


Knipfing & Campbell
When TV news anchor Dick Knipfing signed off for the final time this week he must have set some kind of longevity record for NM news reporting. Knipfing put in 51 years on the beat, starting in 1963 when JFK was in the White House and Democrat Jack Campbell was in the Governor's chair. He would go on to cover eight more Governors before retiring at the age of 71.

In the course of that half-century Knipfing made the anchor rounds at all three major stations of his time KOAT, KOB and KGGM (now KRQE.)

His last gig was at KRQE but he will be most remembered for the run he had at KOAT from 1964 to 1979. Those were explosive growth years for television with technology advancing rapidly and star TV anchors in their heyday. The excitement was at its peak.

Because of his statewide name ID Knipfing was often mentioned as a potential candidate for office, but he preferred to stay glued to the anchor chair where he watched the passing parade of La Politica for 51 of New Mexico's 102 years. . .

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