Today’s news from PolitickerNJ.com

Friends in high places
The Corzine administration has awarded a $2 million crime prevention contract to a New York University program that the governor helped establish and is run by close friends of his.

The state Department of Children and Families approved the expenditure in November and is close to signing the contract, according to agency officials. It calls for the NYU Child Study Center to develop strategies for working with young children and their families to keep kids from committing crimes and joining street gangs.

State records show that NYU was the only out-of-state organization among 18 that applied for the contract, although the work is to be done in Essex County. Among the in-state applicants were the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Plainfield school district and La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark.

Gov. Jon Corzine, a founding board member of the NYU center, remains on the board and has donated $2 million to endow a professorship in child and adolescent psychiatry. One of the governor’s closest friends, Dan Neidich, is on the board and his wife, Brooke Garber Neidich, is the chairwoman. Corzine and Dan Neidich worked together at Goldman Sachs and they frequently travel together. (Susan K. Livio and Josh Margolin, Star-Ledger)

Lautenberg: How could Andrews not have known?
Ratcheting up the rhetoric in what’s becoming a nasty race, Sen. Frank Lautenberg sharply criticized his opponent in the June 3 Democratic primary, Rep. Rob Andrews, for his stance on the Iraq war.

Lautenberg, who’s seeking a fifth term, also downplayed questions about his age, 84, telling Gannett News Service that what matters is his effectiveness now and in the future.

The interview Wednesday marked the first time Lautenberg discussed in depth his differences with the Haddon Heights congressman over the Iraq war since both men kicked off their campaigns this month.

He criticized Andrews for saying recently he wouldn’t have supported the war if he’d known that a terrible “loss of life and limb” would result. (Raju Chebium, Gannett)

Age? Who said anything about age?
In 1980, 52-year-old Washington State Attorney General Slade Gorton, a Republican, rode Ronald Reagan‘s presidential coattails to unseat long-term Democratic incumbent Warren Magnuson, who at 75 years of age had served in the Senate since 1944.

But Reagan wasn’t the only factor in Gorton’s victory. Age, Gorton admits, probably also played a role.

“It was an issue, but it was an issue that we dealt with only extremely delicately,” Gorton, now an 80-year-old lawyer in Seattle, told PolitickerNJ.com in a phone interview. “The theme of the race was to give Warren Magnuson a gold watch, and we treated it that way all along.”

The Gorton campaign managed to capitalize on Magnuson’s age, but not blatantly. They even passed up the opportunity to use footage of Magnuson taking 30 seconds to descend a few steps of an aircraft while visiting the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Instead, Gorton ran a commercial that noted that Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson – the state’s other, younger Democratic Senator who was not up for re-election – was 68-years-old. By telling viewers Jackson’s age, they implicitly reminded them that Magnuson was even older.

“It said… ‘Isn’t it time to start building new seniority for Washington while we still have Scoop Jackson around to help us?’ It was a marvelously clever ad,” said Gorton. “They all knew that Magnuson was older than Jackson. For all practical purposes, it was the only way we dealt with age.”

Here in New Jersey, age is by all accounts a major issue in this year’s Democratic Senate primary. And like Gorton, Rep. Rob Andrews needs to find a way to remind voters that incumbent Frank Lautenberg is 84-years-old without saying it outright. (Matt Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)

Showing off the conservative plumage
The 3rd District U.S. House of Representatives race officially entered voters’ living rooms Thursday when Republican candidate Jack Kelly released the contentious race’s first television advertisement.

The amount of negative campaigning used by the candidates vying for Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton‘s seat has increased in recent weeks. And Kelly’s ad – titled “Liberal vs. The Conservative” -was no exception.

Kelly, a longtime Ocean County freeholder, took aim at his main Republican opponent, Chris Myers, calling him a liberal who raised taxes in Medford by nearly 50 percent while mayor there and who made a personal campaign contribution to Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

The ad will run on local cable channels.

Chris Russell, a spokesman for Myers, called Kelly’s ad a desperate attempt to sway voters. (Rob Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)

Enough
Gov. Corzine yesterday supported making it tougher for part-time public workers to earn taxpayer-paid pensions.

As debate continued on his $33 billion budget proposal, Corzine said he would support requiring government employees work at least 20 hours a week to earn a pension.

He had previously said he would back eliminating pensions for part-time workers, but not how that might happen.

Government workers need to earn only $1,500 annually to qualify for a taxpayer-paid pension.

“Clearly, something has to be done about participation of part-time employees,” Corzine said.

The cost of pensions for government workers has been cited as a leading reason for the state’s budget woes and property taxes, the highest in the nation.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan denounced pleas by state colleges and universities for more state funding, citing trips by Rutgers University employees to Hawaii for a conference and to China to research illegal drugs. (Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press)

Paterson voters looking for change
The 3rd Ward is a part of the city some of the wealthiest and poorest residents call home.

In between, middle-class families struggle to pay their taxes and worry about flooding whenever it rains.

On May 13 voters will go to the polls to decide between re-electing incumbent William McKoy to his third term or going with one of two challengers who contend McKoy is an absentee councilman.

Miguel Diaz, who has run for City Council three times before, and Kim “Khemi” Freeman, a school teacher who calls himself “Paterson’s Obama,” both say it is time for a change.

In turn, McKoy says he has the experience to foster more economic development and help control city spending, but that many of the concerns residents want addressed are a function of Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration.

Residents in the 3rd Ward, an area that runs down the city’s eastern section from First Avenue to Cedar Lawn Cemetery, have an array of concerns, depending on where they live. The area is also in the midst of significant change, with increased economic development as well as the proposed redevelopment of one its most blighted areas, the Alexander Hamilton Housing Development. (Alexander MacInnes, Herald News)

Hillside power struggle to get hearing
Hillside Mayor Karen McCoy Oliver stood before the municipal council for the first time in 18 months and invoked the authority given her under state law to appoint a township attorney.

But township council vice president John Kulish insisted during the Tuesday night meeting the position is filled, at least for the time being.

A three-year-long power struggle between the mayor and council may be headed to Superior Court. (Jason Jett, Star-Ledger)

He knows what he’s talking about
NEWARK – Fresh off a Motown workout with Newark seniors at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center, Mayor Cory Booker reveled in running with the underdog in a high stakes political contest in which his candidate just took a hit.

Booker’s an at-large delegate for Sen. Barack Obama, who lost to Sen. Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania in their ongoing war to be the party’s presidential nominee. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

Bobby J.’s out of jail
Robert C. Janiszewski, who got caught taking a bribe and then brought down a slew of his political colleagues, gets his ankle bracelet snipped today.

Having served a well-traveled three years in prison for extortion and tax evasion, the former Hudson County executive regains his freedom.

Janiszewski, 62, is scheduled to report this morning to the Albany, N.Y., halfway house where he’s been staying since January to have the electronic device removed, officials said.

Living with his wife Elizabeth in upstate New York, Janiszewski will be supervised by a federal probation officer for two years, officials said.

Once one of the state’s most powerful political figures, Janiszewski was caught on tape by the FBI in 1999 accepting a bribe from a Union City psychiatrist seeking a county contract. (Ken Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)

So maybe it wasn’t ha-ha funny
Former Hudson County Freeholder and ex-con William Braker maintained yesterday he was “railroaded” into confessing he accepted a bribe from a Union City psychiatrist.

The man who raised eyebrows by demanding Viagra as well as cash also claims the government had him in the wrong prison for 22 of his 36 months behind bars.

Braker said he was obeying poor legal advice when he pleaded guilty in June 2004 to accepting $3,000 in bribes from Dr. Oscar Sandoval. When he tried to change his tune a few months later, a federal judge wouldn’t let him.

Plus it wasn’t “a bribe,” the 62-year-old Braker said yesterday.

Sandoval, a government informant who told Braker he was pursuing contracts with the county and Jersey City, where Braker was once a deputy police director, was actually giving him an $1,800 donation for his civic association, Braker said.

Braker admitted he showed poor judgment when he accepted a $1,000 ticket for a mayoral fund-raiser from Sandoval. (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)

Hearing set
DENVILLE — Mayor Ted Hussa will appear in Dover Municipal Court May 6 in response to a citizen complaint accusing him of illegally parking in a handicapped space, officials said.
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Hussa’s case was transferred Thursday from Denville to avoid a conflict of interest.

He is due in Dover Municipal Court at 12:30 p.m. on the complaint, according to the court. (Rob Jennings, The Daily Record)

Today’s news from PolitickerNJ.com