Sarlo, others grill Hanson

OCEANPORT – In his critique of the Hanson Report, State Sen. Jim Whelan (D -Atlantic City) said it was too broad in scope. Several of its topics could have generated stand alone reports, he said.

Explaining the process used to create the Hanson Report, its author said, “First and foremost, anyone who called us, who wanted to talk with us, we met with.”

Jon Hanson told the Democrats today, “We’re volunteers, our commission had no resources. All of us are gainfully employed in other endeavors.”

Personally, he said he met with over 200 people; he was the “point person” on the Sports and Exposition Authority and its projects.

Other point men handled Atlantic City, horse racing, and other areas of interest.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) took Hanson to task over his executive order-authorized commission.

“This commission is becoming a body to sort of replace the Sport (and Exposition) Authority,” Sarlo charged. “Do we keep minutes of meetings?”

“We have no minutes. All of these meetings were more informal,” Hanson said. “These were ad hoc meetings.”

“It’s no longer that sort of meetings,” Sarlo shot back. It is meetings where “you’re actually negotiating (on the Prudential Center),” Sarlo said.

The senator also noted that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said Hanson was currently in discussions with several potential developers of the Xanadu project and the banks who own the land lease.

“Your commission is negotiating with four or five potential developers,” Sarlo said, and Hanson is expected to make a recommendation to the Sports and Exposition Authority.

“Most of the time, we’re an observer,” Hanson said.

But in the report, Hanson attests to aiding negotiations on the Izod Center and the New Jersey Nets’ move to Newark.

“We worked very closely with the Sports Authority,” Hanson said.

Sarlo still pressed the notion that this powerless commission is a “de facto public body.”

“You negotiated a deal with an NBA team,” Sarlo said, even though he liked the deal.

On moving gaming to the north, Sarlo tried to pin down Hanson on the future.

“You’re not ruling it out,” Sarlo asked.

But Hanson referred to his report and punted on the question of the day.

Sarlo asked if the Hanson commission would meet again in the future to reevaluate the gaming situation, but Hanson said he thought his job was done.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) asked why members of the Sports and Exposition Authority didn’t voice concern when costly and now dormant projects like Xanadu were being built.

“We agree,” Hanson said curtly.

Sarlo, others grill Hanson