Happening Today

Public Health Council

The Public Health Council meets with votes scheduled on the governing of tanning facilities and student immunization, 250 Washington St., Boston, 9 a.m.

Governor’s Council certification of ballot questions

The Governor’s Council meets and is expected to certify ballot question election results, including the Question 4 ballot initiative that legalizes possession of pot as of tomorrow, Council Chamber, Room 360, 12 p.m.

Goldberg at women’s business luncheon

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is scheduled to speak at the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce’s Women Business Luncheon, Massachusetts Hospital Association Conference Center, 500 District Ave., Burlington, 12:20 p.m.

McGovern on the air

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern is a scheduled guest on Boston Public Radio, WGBH-FM, 89.7, 12:30 p.m.

Pastors explain decision to drop transgender lawsuit

Pastors of four Massachusetts churches and their lawyers hold a press conference to talk about voluntary dismissal of their lawsuit against the Attorney General’s Office and the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination regarding the transgender rights law, Congregation Lion of Judah, 68 Northampton St., Boston, 1 p.m.

MWRA Board

The board governing water and sewer systems in the Boston area is set to make a vote on the proposed fiscal 2018 capital plan, 100 First Avenue, second floor, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, 1 p.m.

Green Line extension hearing

The MBTA will host a public meeting in Medford to provide an update on the Green Line extension project, Medford City Hall, Council Chambers, 85 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, 6:30 p.m.

Fed interest rate meeting

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meets for the second day in a row to discuss the economy and a possible interest rate hike.

Baker in Israel

Gov. Charlie Baker continues his trade mission to Israel with a planned visit to MassChallenge Israel, a “mission debrief” with delegation members, a lunch with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, and a “mission closing” dinner with delegation members and Israeli guests with Bay State ties.

Today’s Stories

Titanic news: Leonardo DiCaprio joins Boston venture capital firm

We start this morning political newsletter with this breaking financial news: Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-winner star of such movies as Titanic, The Revenant and Boston favorite The Departed, has joined Boston’s Data Point Capital as a special adviser and investor in its latest fund, as reported by BostInno’s Dylan Martin. “This isn’t DiCaprio’s first step into the VC world,” writes Martin. “He has already made several investments in startups, including bed mattress ecommerce site Casper, personal recommendation site Qloo and diamond producer Diamond Foundry.”

And, no, the eye-candy heart-throb is not moving to Boston, ladies. Sorry. Now on to other political and public policy news …


Friendly fire: Warren fires salvo at her own supporter

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is known for her caustic quick-draw criticism of opponents who she disagrees with on issues. But she was clearly a little too quick to the social-media draw with her recent criticism of a hedge-fund manager who, it turns out, actually supports Warren and her financial reform agenda, as the NYT’s Andrew Ross Sorkin points out.

The Globe and Herald were piling on this morning. From the Globe’s front-page story by Victoria McGrane: “Warren’s critics see the dust-up with (Whitney) Tilson — which got a very public airing in a prominent New York Times business column Tuesday — as an example of the progressive champion’s occasional tendency toward ideologically driven impulsiveness.”

That’s one way to put it. Another way is the Herald’s Colin Reed description of Warren as basically becoming unhinged when she’s on Twitter or Facebook.


You are now entering … the Gray Zone

With apologies to Rod Serling, we are indeed now entering a “gray zone” of marijuana legalization, set to partially take effect tomorrow, as the Globe’s Joshua Miller notes in a good overview story about all the unknowns tied to pot legalization. Our simple advice: Don’t sell pot and don’t smoke it in public, and you’ll be fine. And if you’re younger than 25, enjoy it while it lasts, for Senate President Stan Rosenberg and others are eyeing a new law that would set the legal weed-toking age limit at 25, as the Herald reports.

‘Patriotism or lure of power’

As they say, if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. In this case, it’s a series of questions from the Globe’s Michael Levenson on Mitt’s failed bid for secretary of state: “Did Mitt Romney just get played by the king of reality TV? And why did the former Massachusetts governor subject himself to a very public vetting by a man he had so thoroughly denounced? Because he’s a patriot? Or a flip-flopper who can’t resist the lure of power?”

The answers to all: Yes.

Boston Globe

No surprise: Healey takes shot at Rex Tillerson appointment

Can you blame her? Attorney General Maura Healey is criticizing Rex Tillerson’s nomination as secretary of state, saying the ExxonMobil chief lacks diplomatic experience and is too close to Russia’s democracy-crushing Vladimir Putin, reports NECN’s John Moroney. But her criticism also came a day after she narrowly avoided being forced to testify in Texas in the ongoing climate-change feud between her office and ExxonMobil, whose lawyers tried to publicly humiliate Healey by demanding her appearance in Texas. So, again: Can you blame her?

NECN (video)

Now it’s Markey calling for Russian investigation

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is the latest Bay State pol to call for an investigation of Russia’s apparent meddling in the 2016 presidential election, reports Shannon Young at MassLive.


Trump backlash could hurt Baker and Walsh

All those people having a near nervous breakdown over the election of Donald Trump as president? After their therapy and recovery, they could turn their inner anger toward incumbents, specifically white, male and establishment-figure incumbents, like Charlie Baker and Marty Walsh, writes the Herald’s Joe Battenfeld.

Boston Herald

Bill would ban presidential candidates from ballots if they don’t release tax returns

Future presidential candidates would be barred from appearing on the state’s election ballots unless they release their tax returns, under a proposed bill filed by State Sen. Michael Barrett in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to publicly release his tax returns, according to a reports at WBUR. Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, said he plans to file his bill for the next legislative session.


Stan’s top four priorities for 2017

It’s a very generalized list, but it’s still a tip-sheet list for State House lobbyists and others wondering what Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s legislative priorities will probably be moving forward. They are: climate change, housing, education funding and economic issues for low- and middle-income folks. SHNS’s Colin Young has more at the Worceter Sun.

Worcester Sun

Activists fear watered-down criminal justice reforms

Members of the Jobs Not Jails coalition are concerned that efforts by Beacon Hill lawmakers to reform the state’s criminal justice system won’t go far enough, reports SHNS’s Katie Lannan at CommonWealth magazine. Ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses is a top priority, activists said, but some advocates are “really worried” that a review of potential reforms by the Council on State Governments Justice Center will lead to only minor changes in criminal justice laws.


Confirmed: Baker administration really wants privatization of T bus services

Here’s a nice slap in the face to T bus drivers and managers: Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack says “right now” private contractors could do a better job running bus services than MBTA personnel. And she’s touting privatization of transit bus services, though not completely committing to it, reports the Herald’s Matt Stout.

Boston Herald

Red flags ignored

Speaking of the T, some MBTA Retirement Fund board members apparently had doubts about investing $25 million in a hedge fund with ties to the T’s former executive director Karl White, but they were basically told by White’s successor at the T: Don’t worry, trust Karl. So they trusted Karl, invested the $25 million, and proceeded to lose every last penny. The Globe’s Beth Healy has all the details of a financial debacle that proves yet again that it’s best to trust but verify.

Boston Globe

In New Bedford, they’re the committees that never meet

Nearly half of the subcommittees established by the New Bedford city council have yet to hold a meeting in 2016 as the year winds to a close, Jennette Barnes of the Standard-Times reports. Committee chairs say they simply await direction from the full council before convening, but some residents are wondering why some, such as the environmental committee, aren’t more active in a city facing multiple issues on that front. 


Lawrence officer critical of missing teen response fired

A veteran Lawrence police officer who took to YouTube to criticize department and city leaders for their response to the gruesome decapitation case in the city has been fired, Michelle Williams of MassLive reports. Note: William Green had been suspended last year for an earlier video rant against Mayor Daniel Rivera, who confirmed Tuesday Green was no longer on the force. Maybe a case of the right message, wrong messenger?  


After taking over EMC, Michael Dell shells out $11 million for Hub condo

Technically, Dell Inc. hasn’t been a Fortune 500 company since it went private a few years back. But Hopkinton-based EMC was a Fortune 500 company before it was recently taken over by Dell. So is this what NAIOP’s David Begelfer was referring to when he predicted a Fortune 500 company would be relocating to Boston next year? You gotta wonder, for Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell, just shelled out $11 million to buy a new condo in Boston’s Millennium Tower, the BBJ’s David Harris reports.


Walsh’s charitable foundation isn’t telling all

Mayor Walsh’s MJW Charitable Foundation has won some kudos for its apparent transparency. But maybe those kudos aren’t deserved, as Isaiah Thompson reports at WGBH: “Documents reviewed by WGBH News suggest that the sources of between one-third and as much as two-thirds of the funds the charity raised last year have not in fact been disclosed.” 


Teachers union head stepping down amid contract standoff

Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman said he will retire in June and expressed doubt that stalled negotiations on a new contract for city teachers can be successfully resolved by then, Kathleen McKiernan of the Herald reports. The Globe’s James Vaznis has a nice story on Stutman’s long career in education and with the union

Civil rights groups: End social media plan

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are calling on Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city’s police commissioner to drop a plan to invest $1.4 million on a software program to monitor social media activity as a crime-prevention tool, Zeninjor Emwemeka of WBUR reports. “Spending scarce taxpayer dollars on surveillance of online speech and associations frustrates the BPD’s mission of community-oriented policing, threatens our civil rights and liberties, and undermines public safety,” reads the letter, signed by 21 groups in all. 


Judge-nominee donated to Baker, Polito

A Walpole selectman awaiting confirmation by the Governor’s Council to serve on the Boston Municipal Court donated to the campaigns of Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito prior to being nominated for the judgeship, Eric Rasmussen and Erin Smith of Fox25 report. James Stanton and family members donated $1,500 to the pols ahead of his 2015 request to be considered for a spot on the bench, but Polito—who could cast a deciding vote on the nomination if the Council is deadlocked—has defended the appointment and Stanton’s credentials.

Fox 25

Local companies picked for new accelerator program

MassChallenge has announced the first 31 companies to join a new accelerator program started earlier this year with the help of the governor’s office to usher in digital health startups, the BBJ’s Jessica Bartlett reports. The BBJ has the full list of companies.


Damn: Westfield doesn’t make the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter cut

It would have been fun to view them here, but it wasn’t meant to be for Massachusetts. From Patrick Johnson at MassLive: “Barnes Air National Guard base in Westfield did not make the cut as the Air Force continues to narrow down the field of potential bases to house the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the base announced on Tuesday.” But you can see the F-35As at the Air Guard Station in Burlington, Vermont.


Today’s Headlines


Plastic bag proposal hits snag with Walsh administration – Boston Globe

Groups call on Boston police to drop social media monitoring plan – WBUR

Walsh Foundation: Gap between donations reported and donations disclosed – WGBH


T pension fund’s failed investment went ahead despite early warning signs, files show – Boston Globe

Senate president Stan Rosenberg eyes raising pot smoking age to 25 – Boston Herald

RFK’s family, Umass in talks about possible project to honor his legacy – Boston Globe

Massachusetts senators head to Minneapolis to study health care costs – MassLive

Baker signs duck boat safety bill into law – Boston Globe

State offers tax incentives to 19 businesses that will add 626 new jobs – Boston Herald

AG passes on probing Babson flap – Boston Herald

Quincy changed stance on AirBnB after targeting couple – Patriot Ledger

Cape officials consider whether to just say no to pot shops – Cape Cod Times

Lawrence court program changing lives one book at a time – Eagle-Tribune

Amherst college retains former state SJC judge to investigate men’s cross-country team – Hampshire Gazette

Taunton City Council votes yes on medical-marijuana hybrid facility – Taunton Gazette

Pittsfield city council OKs gunshot surveillance system – Berkshire Eagle

Bill would bar presidential candidates from appearing on ballot unless they release their tax returns – WBUR

Ahead of Beacon Hill’s criminal justice debate, ex-prisoners want bill may not go far enough – WGBH

Mass. to be seller’s market in 2017 – Worcester Business Journal

Lowell council to explore pot zones – Lowell Sun

Brockton DJ gets deal to manage the Shaw’s Center – Brockton Enterprise


How Hillary Clinton lost Michigan—and blew the election – Politico

Tillerson’s ties with Putin, other autocrats, forged over decades – Washington Post

How Moscow aimed a perfect weapon at the U.S. – New York Times

Lessig: 20 Trump electors could flip – Politico

Did Mitt Romney get played by the king of reality TV? – Boston Globe

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