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.

Email: [email protected]

    Margolis: When the majority doesn’t rule

    Gun Hearing

    What kind of democracy is this, when the Legislature goes against the apparent will of the people?

    Margolis: Budget shortfall presents hard choices

    Ways and Means Committee

    With a state budget shortfall exceeding $100 million and much of the fat already cut, legislators will have to decide to cut spending or raise taxes — or both.

    Margolis: No primary colors likely in Vermont

    Bruce Baroffio waits to vote at Northfield High School on election day. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

    No candidate will cross the Connecticut. Because he or she who makes that crossing is doomed in New Hampshire, where the voters take that first-in-the-nation business seriously. They seem devoutly to believe that their right to vote first is ordained by history if not by nature and/or some yet-to-be-identified divinity.

    Margolis: ‘Sincere effort’ to clean up Lake Champlain may not be enough to save it

    Lake Champlain algae bloom

    Even if the flow of phosphorus into Missisquoi Bay were reduced by 75 percent, the state “might see progress (in reversing growth of the Bay’s algae) in 10 years.” The plan before the Legislature now would not come close to reducing the phosphorus flow by 75 percent.

    Margolis: Why, for now, Shumlin is The Big Guy and not The Man in Montpelier

    Gov. Peter Shumlin holds a news conference Wednesday at City Hall Park in Burlington. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    Shumlin is politically weaker than he was a year ago. His unexpectedly close (and humiliating) re-election, followed by his equally unexpected (and humiliating) decision to abandon his cherished dream of statewide universal health care have taken their toll.

    Margolis: Shumlin is back, calling the shots

    Gov. Peter Shumlin (center) speaks with Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (left) and Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor after his budget address at the Statehouse Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    He made the two recommendations elected officials most hate recommending: cut spending and raise taxes. He confronted his two most vexing problem areas – health care and the high cost of public education with some specific proposals, some calls for further study and co-operation. He acknowledged that some of what he proposed would be resisted.

    Margolis: Single payer protesters take tactics from the right

    Demonstrators unfurl a banner in the House chamber Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, as Gov. Peter Shumlin gives his inaugural address. Protesters packed the gallery demanding that Shumlin make good on his pledge to create a publicly financed health care system. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    Here a small a small, self-ordained, and apparently unrepresentative group of people said, in effect, “Do it our way or we will disrupt.” That’s an inherently fascist approach.

    Margolis: Silly season ends with Shumlin’s re-election

    Lawmakers, including Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (left), mark their ballots in Thursday's secret vote for governor. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    Because a constitutional peculiarity meant that there was some theoretical doubt, the “contest” that ended Thursday had to be discussed, had to be covered as a news story, though it really was not a “contest” at all.

    Margolis: Be wary of activists who claim ‘the people’ have spoken

    Gov. Peter Shumlin at Wednesday's news conference. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    Thanks to that imperfect but useful tool the public opinion poll, the people’s views about Shumlin’s single payer proposal are known. The people were and are closely divided, with most surveys showing a plurality or a small majority in favor, but many opposed or unsure.

    Margolis: Is Vermont spending too little?

    Dezirae Sheldon.

    Budget cuts have a cost – an economic cost if state colleges can’t train the technicians and nurses of the next decade, and a more intimate, personal cost if the disabled get fewer services, the streams get more polluted, and the babies of poor, confused, and perhaps irresponsible young mothers are less safe.

    Margolis: Leading means being able to say you lost

    Peter Shumlin signed the historic health care reform act on the Statehouse steps on Thursday. VTD/Taylor Dobbs.

    Gov. Peter Shumlin may have wasted a lot of time and money, but in the end he at least stood up and took the heat, even though the decision to move away from single payer health care wounded him and his supporters.

    Margolis: The affordability question

    Jobs

    On the campaign trail both Democrats and Republicans focused on Vermont’s cost of living. Does Vermont really have an affordability problem?

    Margolis: Scott Milne and the pursuit of the governorship

    Republican travel agency executive Scott Milne formally launches his campaign for governor Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at the Aldrich Public Library in Barre. Photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

    Scott Milne has yet to concede the race for governor, and may take his quest to the legislature, which will have the final say. He is within his rights to do so, but he is unlikely to prevail and could put his political future at risk.

    Shumlin may win, but voters express dissatisfaction

    Peter Shumlin dem

    With his race against an unknown Republican still in the balance, Gov. Peter Shumlin will surely post one of the lowest vote totals for a sitting governor in years.

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