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: 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.

    Margolis: For a meager 10 grand, you, too, can make a fool of yourself

    Screenshot taken from Skip Vallee's ad calling on former Burlington College President Jane Sanders to return money the college paid her when she left in 2011. YouTube video

    Skip Vallee’s ad criticizing Bernie Sanders’ wife was poorly written and misdirected, but the man has every right to make himself look silly.

    Margolis: Schools likely to remain small and expensive

    A classroom at Montpelier High School awaits students. Photo by Katie Jickling/VTDigger

    Better get used to it, Vermont will always have a low teacher-pupil ratio and a high per-pupil cost compared to most other states.

    Margolis: Measuring Vermont’s schools on a variety of standards

    Creative Commons photo by Alberto G. via Flicrk

    By any calculation, Vermont spends a lot on public schools, and by the most common approach to assessing school quality, it gets what it pays for.

    Margolis: Cutting teachers is quickest way to reduce school costs

    First grade teacher Emily Wrigley works with students at Union Elementary in Montpelier. Photo by Roger Crowley/for VTDigger

    There are only two ways to hold down school spending, and by all indications, most Vermonters don’t want to do either one.

    Margolis: Primary night predictably anti-climactic


    Statewide, the only real question surrounding Tuesday’s voting was whether Dean Corren, the Progressive Party candidate for lieutenant governor, would get enough Democratic write-in votes to get on that party’s line on the November ballot also.

    Margolis: The absurdity of libertarianism

    Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination through a write-in campaign in the Aug. 26 primary. Photo by Tom Brown/VTDigger

    Just consider what a truly committed – and consistent – libertarian would refuse to do: drive (or even ride in) a car; turn on the kitchen tap or flush the toilet in most of the country; listen to/watch broadcast radio or television; attend or send children to a public school; root for the state university sports teams; be treated by a licensed physician or take the drugs the physician prescribes; apply for a patent or copyright; buy stock in a corporation, which is a creature of the state, and which exists only because of limited liability laws, which are government intrusions into the economy.

    Margolis: There’s nothing free about the free market

    IBM manufactures microchips at its plant in Essex Juntion. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana/VTDigger

    Shocked by the state’s unequivocal gushing to save IBM? Why not let the free market take its course, you say? Because a truly free market has never existed.

    Margolis: Scott Milne is letting the parade pass him by

    Scott Milne. Photo by Anne Galloway

    Two weeks after his less-than-formal announcement that he run for governor, Republican candidate has yet to name a campaign manager, launch a website or meet the press. But the Fourth of July is right around the corner.

    Margolis: Milne gallops to the rescue of threadbare Vermont GOP

    Scott Milne is president of Milne Travel American Express. Courtesy photo

    By announcing that he would be the Republican candidate for governor, Pomfret businessman Scott Milne saved his party from what would have been five months of humiliation, if not disaster.

    Margolis: Despite the kvetching about Vermont being bad for business, the numbers don’t add up

    The view from East Hill in Plainfield. VTD/Josh Larkin

    Actual evidence, then, as opposed to impressionistic griping, shows that Vermont is about as good a place to start and run a business as any other state.

    Margolis: GMO labeling law could do far less harm — and good — than expected

    Products containing genetically modified ingredients would have to disclose that information on the back of the package near the nutritional facts under Vermont’s bill. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

    The furor over GMOs at the end of the legislative session is a reaction to the corporatization of food.

    Margolis: Melding art and science in the final hours of the session


    While governing may be an applied science, legislating has its artistic elements, its primary art form being drama, or perhaps just petulance.

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