I'm sitting in the office watching the gambling summit on our webcam and wondering: Why didn't Jon Hanson's committee just hold a few of these dog-and-pony shows (I'm not kidding, there was a guy who played those racetrack bugle notes when the summit began) and defuse some of the criticism and suspicion?

Give everybody chance to speak. Nod approvingly or not. At least pretend to listen. Maybe somebody will bring up something you didn't think about. Or maybe not. But take notes - it looks good and it keeps you awake.

If Hanson's committee had done that, there might have been less ammunition from those who believe too much was done secretly and all parties weren't heard from. And there might have been a little bit less momentum to put together an all-Democratic response to the Hanson report and the opaque process.

There's nothing wrong with these hearings that are now getting underway - they are healthy - but the last thing Atlantic City needs now is for this plan to get bogged down in partisan one-upsmanship.

Understand that I wholeheartedly agree with the results of the Hanson report. I think the state should get out of the racing business, should not subsidize it and should put its effort into Atlantic City - and a viable industry that represents billions of investment and more than 35,000 jobs.

And that's why I wish the committee had just held a few of these horse-and-bugle shows. Just to defuse some of the opposition.

And now, back to the hearings ...

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