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.

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    Margolis: Corren case illustrates absurdity of campaign finance law

    Dean Corren

    This lawsuit demonstrates how the campaign finance laws have largely been reduced to legal fine print.

    Margolis: How a budget increase can also be a cut

    Shap Smith

    In the their artistic endeavor to balance the state budget, lawmakers weigh the fact that sometimes cuts cost money.

    Liberal caucus threatens passage of budget bill

    Rep. Chris Pearson, a Burlington Progressive, said the rising income of the rich justifies placing an extra burden on them to help fund state welfare for the poor, using a chart from the state Department of Taxes. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

    If at least 20 members of the Working Vermonters Caucus join 53 House Republicans and four independents who oppose the appropriations bill, the measure could fail.

    Margolis: Structures, and structural change, take time

    Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, is chair of the Senate Committee on Finance. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

    Vermont is trying to finance a 21st century government in a 21st century economy with a 20th century tax structure, lawmakers say. But at least the new blueprints are being considered.

    Margolis: Cutting state jobs might be good for the budget, but not for the state’s economy

    Mitzi Johnson

    Two truths about budget battles: (1) a reasonable case can be made for or against any proposal; (2) consistency is rare if not absent.

    Margolis: Shumlin hints at compromise

    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

    There’s a long way to go in a challenging legislative session, but the often-feisty Gov. Peter Shumlin is not drawing any lines in the sand as long as lawmakers achieve his overall goals.

    Margolis: The state’s budget (and revenue) conundrum

    Budget suggestions

    Lawmakers and administration officials know they are in a real pickle, and one reason they don’t quite know how to get out of it is that they are not sure how they got into it.

    Margolis: G’Day, mate, have you ever been to Vermont?


    Vermont’s tourism boss visits Australia and lots of other places in hopes of enticing the locals to return the favor. Is it worth it? Hard to tell unless you stop doing it.

    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.

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