One of the small rewards of going to a business event such as this week’s Chamber of Commerce business expo is that you collect a lot of pens. Also refrigerator magnets, tote bags, pamphlets, business cards, delicious (but fattening) food, and, yes, more pens.

So where did we go wrong? We came back from the Princeton Chamber’s expo at the Westin the other day with just one pen. But we weren’t disappointed, because we also came back with enough story ideas to fill a tote bag. We got a kick out of the chamber event because of all the people we ran into. We traded gossip with our competitors. We ran into people we reported on 20 years ago and found out what they are up to now (and what their kids are up to).

And we chatted with dozens of people who read the paper and appreciated it (you have just the right balance of business and culture, one said). Several people had specific ideas for stories we could do.

Among the ideas: A first person account of a jobseeker’s early days of unemployment, a chronicle of how businesses are getting back on their feet after being hit by the floods, and a program that a social service organization offers to corporations with employees coping with elderly parents or relatives.

We also heard about one story that we can put on hold for a while: The Princeton Regional School Board’s vote on whether to raze the old Valley Road School on Witherspoon Street in Princeton was postponed, for possibly up to a year. Good information. It pays to get out of the office.

#b#To the Editor: AARP Seeks Input#/b#

I am quite put off by the number of candidates who have yet to respond to the AARP Voters’ Guide questionnaire. A phone-in conference recently hosted by AARP attracted almost 20,000 AARP members who wanted to learn about important issues such as property taxes, long-term care, health care, and affordable utilities. As they consider candidates for the November 8 election, AARP members and all New Jerseyans want to know where candidates stand.

Most state legislative districts have over 30,000 AARP members, the vast majority of whom vote. Prior elections have been won by far less than that. According to the Census Bureau, seniors are the only group in the country that has consistently increased its rate of voter turnout. AARP members can swing an election either way. The 2011 AARP Voters’ Guide will help New Jersey voters understand their candidates’ views on key issues.

To date, fewer than half of the candidates who received the simple, web-based questionnaire have responded. AARP repeatedly calls these candidates to remind them of how important the Voters’ Guide is to senior voters. Shame on candidates who don’t respond!

Marilyn Askin

AARP Chief Legislative Advocate

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