Jon Margolis

Jon Margolis

Jon Margolis is VTDigger's columnist. He is the author of The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964, left the Chicago Tribune early in 1995 after 23 years as Washington correspondent, sports writer, correspondent-at-large and general columnist. Margolis spent most of his Tribune years in the Washington Bureau as the newspaper’s chief national political correspondent. In 1988, he was a one of the journalists asking questions of Senators Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle in their televised vice presidential debate. Before joining the Tribune in 1973, Margolis had been the Albany Bureau Chief for Newsday. He was the first reporter on the scene of the Attica prison rebellion in 1971, and spent the entire first night inside the prisoner-held “D” yard. Earlier, Margolis was a reporter for the Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J.; the Miami Herald and the Concord Monitor (N.H.). In addition to The Last Innocent Year, published by William Morrow in 1999, he is the author of How To Fool Fish With Feathers: An Incompleat Guide to Fly Fishing (Simon and Schuster, 1991) and The Quotable Bob Dole — Witty, Wise and Otherwise, (Avon Books, 1995). He also wrote two chapters of Howard Dean: A citizens Guide to the Man Who Would be President (Steerforth, 2003). A native of New Jersey, Margolis graduated from Oberlin College in 1962. He served in the US Army.


    Margolis: Unease about property taxes, health care gives Vermont GOP a foothold

    Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin proposed a $5.6 billion dollar budget to the joint assembly of the House and Senate Wednesday. Photo by Roger Crowley

    Shumlin is trying to do “big things,” none bigger than his health care plan. In the abstract, voters admire office-holders who try to do big things. In reality, they are wary of change.

    Margolis: What about what went right?

    Vermont Health Connect feature

    Much attention has been focused on the plight of Vermont Health Connect, but its successes seem to have been less sexy to the media.

    Margolis: Paid sick leave and minimum wage would be a double whammy for business

    The Vermont Workers' Center sponsors a Health and Diginity Rally in the Cedar Creek Room of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on opening day of the 2014 legislative session. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

    If it is necessary to offend and annoy a key constituency, there is something to be said for doing it in incremental doses.

    Margolis: Conservation groups backtrack in the wake of public outcry

    Johnson Farm

    The Vermont Land Trust seems to have been blindsided by something new in American politics: website comments. In this case, several commenters declared that if the bill passed they would not donate easements on their land to Vermont Land Trust.

    Margolis: Shifting ‘scrutiny’ from school budgets to politicians’ claims

    View of a school bus through a rainy window.

    The large number of school budget rejections this year raises the possibility that the current school financing system may need to be adjusted, if not replaced.

    Margolis: Political Buncombe and praise for the Vermont National Guard

    While the Dubie family came out in force to the ceremony, the guard, who Dubie also called “family,” made up the majority of the crowd.

    The governor and the senators love the National Guard because of what it brings to the state from Washington: money.

    Margolis: Why driving 55, recycling and putting on a sweater won’t save the planet

    Creative Commons photo by Keith via Flickr.

    Climate change is a collective problem that requires collective – and often compulsory – solutions. A carbon tax would be more effective than all the carpools, slower drivers and electric cars combined.

    Margolis: The Vermont GOP’s secret weapon remains an unknown quantity


    Name recognition can be bought, but it takes both money and time, and time is not waiting for the Republicans and their mystery candidate.

    Margolis: Who says you can’t legislate common sense?

    Creative Commons photo by Lord Jim via Flickr

    Gov. Shumlin and others seem to believe that a ban on drivers using cellphones won’t affect behavior. Common sense indicates otherwise.

    Margolis: The wisdom and folly of legal bribery

    Husky Injection Molding in Milton.

    Political parties and economists disagree on whether New York-style economic incentives to lure businesses is better than simply lowering tax rates for everyone.

    Margolis: The governor’s balancing act

    Rep. Patti Komline, R-Dorset, claps during Gov. Peter Shumlin's 2014 budget address. Photo by Roger Crowley

    The numbers all added up, with total revenue matching projected expenses, and without cutting any social programs.

    Margolis: Shumlin’s single-minded speech sidesteps broader state issues

    State of the State address:  drug addiction. Governor Shumlin leaves the House chamber after delivering his address to the joint session of the legislature. Photo by Roger Crowley

    How tempting for a governor to devote his speech to a subject about which there is almost no dissent. Everybody opposes drug addiction and approves of measures to prevent it.

    Margolis: I predict less news

    Photo of news sign.

    On New Year’s Day, Free Press publisher Jim Fogler took up half of page 12B to enlighten readers about the paper’s new rented office space on Bank Street. After describing its new “state-of-the-art media facility,” its high-tech capabilities and its stirring view of Lake Champlain, Fogler turned to “the content front.”

    Margolis: Civics 101

    Montpelier bedecked for the Fourth of July. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

    For better or worse, it’s a new world, one which places a bigger burden on the reader/citizen to distinguish knowledge from garbage.

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