By Briana Vannozzi
In politics, timing is everything. So it came as no surprise to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop that speculation was circulating about his trip to Atlantic City today, just a day after Gov. Chris Christie took jabs at the gubernatorial hopeful on his home turf.
“As I think as our staff has often said, he has this strange obsession with Jersey City and myself dating back to Bridgegate. So none of the is new. I regret not being here earlier and talking to some of those residents,” Fulop said.
Fulop came to talk casinos. Specifically, what value they could bring to North Jersey, and at what detriment to the south.
Fulop tweeted this morning that the visit could change his position. Has it?
“So it was impactful and I got to do some more of these sort of conversations in different environments. What I found is I try to balance what’s in Jersey City’s best interest, what’s in North Jersey’s best interest. I’m obviously conscious of the impact to Atlantic City,” he said.
Fulop has been a long-time supporter of building casinos in the north. The state Legislature approved a constitutional amendment last month, allowing voters to decide if as many as two casinos should be built elsewhere in the state.
“I think Jersey City will have a huge say about the direction of that ballot referendum ultimately,” Fulop said.
“It was very important the he heard first hand because who better, in the state of New Jersey, to talk about gaming than Atlantic City? We currently have a monopoly and hopefully that will continue,” said Atlantic City Council President Marty Small.
Small says he orchestrated the gathering after Fulop reached out to initiate. He invited lifelong residents, fellow city council members and workers associated with the casino industry. They broke bread at a local eatery.
“We didn’t talk about the governor’s race. We didn’t talk about relationships. It was a historical perspective on people telling me about 18-year-olds back in the day aspiring to work at a casino instead of wanting to go to college,” Fulop said.
As they met and prepped for a jitney bus tour of the city, news broke of yet another compromise bill put out by Senate President Sweeny. This time giving the city 120 days to meet state demands before a takeover would go into effect.
“I am not prepared to comment on the bill but I find it rather ironic but that’s a story for another day. That a bill softening the blow on Atlantic City drops while we’re meeting with Mayor Fulop. You can connect the dots if you will,” Small said.
“If we decide — and we have more meetings to do in Jersey City — that this is not in Jersey City’s best interest, we’re not going to leave anything up to chance. We’re going to kill it and we’re going to kill it aggressively,” Fulop said.