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A suitable Widmer tribute. But at what price?

For more than 20 years, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Michael Widmer has tracked public dollars with the zeal of Hollywood star stalker. If Widmer’s business-backed group pronounced a spending plan or tax change fiscally sound, it stood a decent chance on Beacon Hill, and in the public domain. No one would ever accuse him of being a big-spender kind of guy.

But a planned “tribute” next week to mark Widmer’s career and recent retirement as foundation president sounds, well, lavish. An entry-level ticket to the March 4 event at the JFK Library and Museum costs $300. Sponsorships starting at $2,500 are also being sold, with the top tier priced at $10,000. For that, a company gets a full table and food, and all kinds of promotion — including “recognition from the podium during speaking program.”

The proceeds from the event will go to a public service award in Widmer’s name and an internship at the foundation for a student interested in public policy.

Considering the powerful people likely to fill the room on Widmer’s big night — including Governor Charlie Baker — it could be money smartly spent on good will and marketing. The host committee lineup alone is stocked with big-time local players such as Jack Connors, Boston Children’s Hospital chief executive Sandra Fenwick, State Street Bank executive vice president Dennis Ross, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts chief operating officer Bruce Bullen.

And even though it’s probably obvious, we’ll state this anyway: The party budget doesn’t include a dime of taxpayers’ money. — MARK POTHIER

Nonprofit network loses its leader

It was an easy, obvious question, but freshman congressman Seth Moulton still chose his words carefully when asked why he picked Rick Jakious , CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, to be the newest member of his growing political team. Jakious, whose hiring was announced Tuesday, will become the US representative’s district director next month, overseeing Moulton’s activities in the 39 cities and towns that form the state’s Sixth Congressional District.

“How do I say this politely so not to offend politicians?” Moulton, 36, a Salem Democrat who had never run for office until last year, mused aloud.

Then he paused, gave a rueful laugh, and said this: “Sadly, I think there are a lot of people in politics these days who have lost sight of the fact that the job fundamentally is a job of service. My job is to be a public servant to everyone in my district I represent, and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the political bickering and infighting and campaigning and the money, and forget the core values of this job. But I’m not worried about Rick losing sight of those core values because he’s embodied them throughout his life.”

Jakious, a 37-year-old Swampscott resident and UMass Amherst grad, has toggled between nonprofits and politics for his whole career. Before taking the helm of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network three years ago, he spent 10 years working for City Year, and also worked for a congressman in Washington state.

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“It’s obviously bittersweet to leave MNN,” Jakious said, “but this ultimately was an opportunity I felt like I couldn’t pass up.”

Jakious was asked to consider working for Moulton by Emily Cherniack, founder of Boston-based New Politics, which recruits veterans and alumni of service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps to run for office. It was Cherniack who persuaded Moulton to aim for Congress last fall. That race resulted in the ousting of nine-term congressman John Tierney, who was knocked out in the primary.

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Jakious said the Mass. Nonprofit Network will soon be initiating a search for his successor. — SACHA PFEIFFER

Organizers try subtle pitch for 2024 Olympics cash

The race is on for the Boston 2024 Partnership to build local support for its Olympics dreams. With that in mind, you can’t blame the pro-Olympics crew for starting with a friendly audience, the commercial real estate trade group NAIOP Massachusetts.

Boston 2024 sent some familiar faces to make the case to the group at a panel discussion at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on Tuesday. Architects David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi and David Nagahiro of CBT were there, as well as Steve Thomas from planning and engineering firm VHB.

No one from Boston 2024 overtly requested donations to its $75 million campaign — that might have been considered rude. But National Development president Tom Alperin, the panel moderator and a member of Boston 2024’s executive committee, did ask the nearly 500 attendees for their support.

“This is a tremendous economic development opportunity for our city,” Alperin said. “This puts Boston on a world stage that far exceeds its current visibility.”

Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey , meanwhile, pointed to the MBTA’s beleaguered performance this winter as an incentive to make badly needed investments in public transit. Davey, who used to run the T, said a deadline like the ones that would be set by the 2024 Summer Games makes it more likely that the upgrades will get done. “We just really need to get our act together,” he said.

It was a mild-mannered crowd, but that remark drew a smattering of applause. Davey seemed happy with the response, limited as it was: “Thanks, mom,” he joked.

— JON CHESTO


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