Newspapers usually report news rather than make it. But this week U.S. 1 has not one but two stories to share. One, which may be of some interest to PR people, ad agencies, and other newspaper publishers and their ad salespeople, appears on page 35 of this issue.

Another one, which we will report right here and now, will be of interest to those who appreciate the role that behind-the-scenes people play in an any organization. In our case the story is that of the man who every Wednesday has trucked our paper from various printing plants in south Jersey and Philadelphia to our parking lot week in, week out, for more than 26 years.

That man is John Mitchell, who this week makes his last pre-dawn trip from his home in south Jersey to the streets of Philadelphia to U.S. 1’s Roszel Road parking lot. The best part about the John Mitchell story is how he connected with U.S. 1 in the first place.

It was sometime in 1986, U.S. 1 was less than two years old, and our founding editor and publisher, Richard K. Rein, in the manner of most young entrepreneurs, did not delegate. That hands-on approach extended to transporting the “boards” — the mechanical paste-ups of the pages — to the printer. And, of course, if Rein drove the boards to the printer, then in Bridgeton in South Jersey, it only made sense that he would then wait around for hours as the paper was printed and then loaded onto the U-Haul truck for our indefatigable editor to return to Princeton.

Of course, the two-plus hour trip to Bridgeton was usually accomplished on little sleep. The six or seven hours spent at the printing plant weren’t much help — how much sleep can you get in the cab of a U-Haul?

After a half-dozen such forays Rein was approached by Mitchell, then waiting for another publication to be printed. “Do you have any idea that the load you’re carrying back with you exceeds the legal limit of that U-haul?” he asked. Rein had never considered it. “You know, I could do this job for you, it would be a lot safer, and it would be one less thing for you to worry about.”

Mitchell took over the job, and it was — week in, week out — one thing we never worried about again at U.S. 1. When other papers never got out of Philadelphia because of a snow storm, ours got out. In his retirement we know that John Mitchell won’t miss the late papers at the printer caused by some mechanical problem on a press, or the early runs to get the best spot at the loading dock, or the detours onto back roads when I-95 has been jammed up. He won’t miss that, but we sure will miss him.

Drive safely, John.

#b#To the Editor: State Pension Perils#/b#

New Jersey taxpayers should hope California remains at the cutting edge of popular trends: Voters in its two big cities — San Diego and San Jose — have lashed out against public employee pensions.

Both cities floated ballot initiatives to switch city workers from traditional pensions to 401(k)-style plans, and it passed overwhelmingly. The cities simply got to the point where taxpayers realized they could no longer afford to pay city worker retirement benefits without sacrificing needed services. Public outrage at public employee unions and benefits also was expressed in Wisconsin. Having won a recall election easily, Governor Scott Walker prevailed with his agenda of taking on state workers and getting them to pay more for health care and pensions.

The complete public employee retirement system needs to be overhauled. New Jersey’s total unfunded liability for pensions and retiree health benefits is upwards of $150 billion — highest among the 50 states — but it has not set aside a single penny to pay for it.

A simple first step at reform would be to end the practice of state employees piling on overtime and comp time as they get closer to retirement. This practice is used to pad total income — which is used to calculate the lifetime retirement benefit. Of course, the increased benefit is a cost that we, the taxpayers, are on the hook for until the retiree dies.

And in New Jersey it is not uncommon for public employees to legally double or triple dip into the pension system — holding more than one government job and collecting multiple pensions. While any public employee collecting $100,000-plus in a public employee pension is egregious, the cronyism that allows it is reprehensible.

Jon Carver

Stockton

An electrical engineer, Carver says he is “a middle-aged man alarmed at the state’s finances and what it will mean to live in New Jersey in my retirement years.”

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