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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Longest Serving State Senator Turns 90, The Oil Bear Starts To Rip SE NM And There's A New TV News Leader 

Sen. Pinto
He's the longest serving current state senator and he may be the oldest person to ever serve in either chamber of the NM Legislature. John Pinto turned 90 last week. He celebrated with a visit from US Senator Tom Udall and a cupcake with a single candle.

Pinto, born on the Navajo reservation in dirt poor conditions in 1924, represents Indian Country in San Juan and McKinley counties. He has brought millions back to his district since winning his first term in 1976 and rarely draws serious election opposition.

For many of us Pinto's crowning achievement was winning money to turn one of the most deadly roads in New Mexico into four lanes. That would be the old U.S. 666--the "Devil's Highway." It's now U.S 491 and much, much safer.

It's hard to believe Senator Pinto, who had a career as an educator, will run for another four year term in 2016 when he turns 92, but in 2011 when we blogged that he would not seek another term in '12, Pinto later decided against retirement.

Pinto's now traditional singing of the "Potato Song" at the end of each legislative session is one of those only in New Mexico moments. That he was one of a handful of Navajo code talkers in WWII only enhances his legendary status.

CAREFUL OUT THERE

From our email:

The five states or jurisdictions where a person is most likely to be killed by law enforcement are New Mexico, Nevada, District of Columbia, Oregon, and Maryland. California ranks sixth from the top. Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York are the safest (or, perhaps, the worst at reporting).

THE OIL BEAR

The impact of the epic bear market in oil prices is now bearing down on New Mexico:

ConocoPhillips said Dec. 8 that it would cut spending next year by about 20 percent. The Houston-based company is deferring investment in North American plays including the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico and the Niobrara formation in Colorado.

On Monday oil plunged below $56 a barrel. We did a doulbe-take when we heard KOB-TV anchorman Tom Joles report that the price of a gallon of gas at one ABQ station is going for $1.99. More of that kind of Christmas gift is more than welcome.

Speaking of TV, our media mavens report that for the first time in about 8 years KRQE-TV has relinquished the 10 p.m. news crown to KOAT-TV. The Nielsen ratings for November for that newscast have KRQE in second place and KOB-TV in third.

It was the first ratings period for KRQE, channel 13, since the departure of veteran anchorman Dick Knipfing and that obviously hurt them. Media watchers are now waiting to see if the station can quickly recover from the hit.

GASSING UP

Back on the big oil story, reader Paul Donishthorpe (brother to political pollster and consultant Bruce) notes that the Santa Fe governing class is freaking out as the state budget is socked over $7 million for each dollar that the price of oil declines. But Donisthorpe says look at his side of the coin:

The ABQ newspaper reported on the completion of the Paseo del Norte/I-25 project, noting that 150,000 vehicles use that roadway every day. Some simplistic assumptions: 150,000 vehicles each traveling 20 miles in a day and getting 20 miles per gallon would use one gallon of fuel or a total of 150,000 gallons every day.

With a $1.50 per gallon saving in the cost of that fuel (we were paying $3.60 per gallon not that long ago), each vehicle would save $1.50 every day driving those 20 miles. For 150,000 vehicles that's $225,000 every day that real people are saving. That's $6,750,000 every month. If the savings can continue for 6 months, that is over $40 million dollars. 

Thanks, Paul. The average motorist is much more interested in those stats--not how much heartburn the oil drop is causing the politicians.

JOB ALERT

End of the year job hunters still have time to get their resumes to State Auditor-elect Tim Keller who takes office January 1. Applications for five open positions are being taken here on his transition web site. You might get a chuckle when you see that Keller has on the same page as the job listings a button to click on to make a campaign contribution. He assures us the two are not related.

BODY COUNTING

Here's a true New Mexico story:

The Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center is offering free lung and whole body counting services, or radiation scans, to residents who live within a 100-mile radius of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The scans are part of a research project titled "Lie Down and Be Counted." Since 1997, the program has been working to establish a baseline of normal radiation present in adults living in the region. "Natural radiation is already in the body. You can get it from eating a banana or eating a lot of wild game, such as elk," said Russell Hardy, director of the center.

Watch that banana intake.

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 (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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