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: 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.

    Margolis: Governing is left out of the political equation

    Gov. Peter Shumlin (left) and Republican challenger Scott Milne participate in a televised debate at WCAX studios in South Burlington on Wednesday night. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

    Go to incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin’s web site and try to find a hint of programs and policies he will put forward if re-elected. Republican challenger Scott Milne didn’t start outlining his policies until a few weeks ago. Only on Oct. 22 did he unveil an economic proposal.

    Margolis: Disobedience was civil, but was it warranted?

    VT Gas occupy 10

    Protesters occupying the Pavilion in opposition to the Vermont Gas pipeline perhaps invest the issue with more significance than it deserves.

    Margolis: Milne faced steep learning curve on the campaign trail

    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

    From the outset, he has had too little money, too small (and inexperienced) a staff, and too little time.

    Margolis: Vermont economy out of the governor’s hands — whoever that governor may be

    Gov. Peter Shumlin (left) and Republican challenger Scott Milne participate in a televised debate at WCAX studios in South Burlington on Wednesday night. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

    It’s October of an election year, and the hills are alive with the sounds of clashing statistics.

    Margolis: A colossus by comparison

    Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, Dan Feliciano and Scott Milne at the VPR debate, Sept. 23, 2014. Photo by Anne Galloway

    Of the four candidates at Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate, only one managed to project the qualities expected in a governor: the incumbent Peter Shumlin. The other three fell woefully short.

    Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Margolis: Shumlin is back, calling the shots"