It’s difficult to decide if we should thank President Donald Trump, nationally, and the perpetrators of the Trinity River Vision fiasco, locally, for keeping us entertained throughout 2018.

The antics on both fronts were a diversion to be sure, but far from humorous.

What we know for certain about 2019 is that Trump in Washington and the officials marooned in controversy on Panther Island will continue to torment us.

There are folks much smarter than I am to write about world affairs and my guess is that most everyone is tired of reading about Trump, but those closest to the action in Washington need to keep at it because the president’s actions border on those of a madman.

We can’t watch things crumble and wait until we finally see the ruins before we realize as citizens of a great nation that we should have done something, should have spoken out.

Mitt Romney has been a personal favorite of mine, although he was clearly outmatched running for president against Barack Obama.

Now Romney is returning to national politics as a member of the U.S. Senate representing Utah, and he’s off to a promising start with a New Year’s op-ed in The Washington Post.

The GOP’s 2012 nominee for president declared he will vote with his fellow Republicans only when his conscience allows it. He said he would not toe the party line. And he pulled no punches in his assessment of the current president. We need more of that.

Romney’s view of the president was damning, alarming and right on point.

For example: “To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow ‘our better angels.’ A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

At the Business Press, we know that readers respond best to news and opinion on local matters. The Trinity River Vision project and its disastrous management by the Tarrant Regional Water District will stay in our sights. We will continue to demand accountability, answers, good governance, and wise spending of taxpayer money.

I’ve written for newspapers and news organizations, both local and national, for over 50 years. Politics will engage those who read my columns but no topics draw as much attention as personal ones. I’ve long felt that readers of a newspaper or magazine should know as much as possible about those who run them. They should have a sense of who we are.

When I write about family or people and places I know, I get mostly wonderful reactions. Occasionally, I hear from readers who clearly dislike me and my views. So it goes. As the late Ricky Nelson once said in a song, “Ya can’t please everyone ...”

For me, 2018 ended with two endearing moments. The first was a phone call on New Year’s Eve from someone our newspaper had helped throughout the year.

He phoned to say “thanks” for what we had done for him and his family. It’s sad, but few folks say “thank you” anymore.

The other was a call from a retired Fortune 500 executive who said my Christmas column brought tears to his eyes. It was about a gift of a rifle from my brother, a rifle I never used but always cherished.

My brother took me deer hunting – with a gun he knew could not kill a deer, in a place where there were no deer to shoot at. It was not an accident.

“Your column reminded me of the .410 shotgun my dad gave to me one Christmas,” he said. “He took me duck hunting – for teal – and sitting in a freezing cold blind for hours with no teal was among the worst experiences of my life.”

He left the blind amazed that his dad and friends found duck hunting so thrilling.

Other than getting his own shotgun and spending time with his dad, he said, his favorite memory was the “awful cheese sandwich” his mother made for him that day. Shivering cold and miserable, he was also ravenously hungry. He ate it.

“Bad as it was,” he said, “it was the best sandwich I ever ate.”

We talked for a long time, connecting on many subjects we have in common, mostly family stories.

News, columns, and corporate community involvement allow us to connect with our audience.

In 2019, we hope to continue strengthening those bonds.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

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