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GRAPEVINE: Fulop, Christie reconnect over Pulaski Skyway closing

The dust-up between Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and the Christie administration didn't last long. In fact, the two sides have been cordial and productive together since Fulop publicly called out the governor for canceling meetings in what appeared to be political payback.

And you'll never guess the reason why: traffic studies.

The April 12 closing of one side of the Pulaski Skyway — which will be a nightmare for commuters and the Jersey City streets they will clog — was enough to restart the dialogue.

"Both sides have a lot to gain and a lot to lose," a source told Grapevine. "This has the potential to be an epic nightmare that is nobody's fault."

The two have been talking regularly for weeks. In the coming days, they will host two town hall–type meetings with residents to talk about what to expect during the two years this will impact the traffic in the area.

The source figured there were two reasons for the repair in relations just a few weeks after Fulop accused Gov. Chris Christie of presenting a "gross misrepresentation of the facts."

"This is going to be so big that to not talk would be a failure of government of epic proportions," the source said.

The other?

Let's just say it was the result of fighting fire with fire.

"I think the governor's office realized they are dealing with a straight-talking mayor who is going to call it like it is," the source said. "They haven't had any other problems since then. Things have been fine."

State waits on SCOTUS for sports gambling ruling

New Jersey politicians can talk all they want, but that doesn't mean the U.S. Supreme Court is going to listen.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) teamed up with state Democrats and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian last week in the troubled shore town to hold a press conference calling for the high court to take up the state's case regarding sports wagering.

The court is now the last resort for the state, which has lost every appeal it has made thus far to overturn a federal law prohibiting sports betting from expanding beyond Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.

Gov. Chris Christie's administration filed a petition last month to have the case heard.

Sweeney and others are using the annual NCAA men's college basketball tournament, which is currently underway, and all the money it makes every year for Las Vegas as a good example of why the state, and particularly Atlantic City, needs this.

But as one source puts it, the decision is really out of anyone's hands in New Jersey at this point.

The court receives roughly 10,000 petitions for cases to be heard each year. New Jersey's sports wagering argument is just one of those.

"I think everybody's just hoping and waiting," the source said.

If the court were to pass on the Garden State, it would clearly be a "missed opportunity" to revive Atlantic City, the source said.

And the fact that other states are doing it doesn't help.

"We don't want to be a follower," the source said. "We want to be a leader on things like that."

Ironically, the appeal to make more money on sports actually has hurt the state as the NCAA has refused to hold championship events in the state since the appeal was made.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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