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With wingnut thugs planning to disrupt every Democratic town hall this August, writing about ethics reform at the Missouri Housing Development Commission is … tame. That’s the problem with actual good governance: it seems so humdrum that it’s easy to overlook.

Fortunately for Missourians, though, Clint Zweifel, their new treasurer and the chair of the MHDC, (pictured at right being sworn in last January) gets excited about ethics reform. The Housing Commission hands out tax credits to developers for low income housing, and the opportunities for commissioners to abuse their position were rife. And inexcusable. It wasn’t even illegal for them to have personal or financial interests with people coming before the MHDC.

Treasurer Zweifel pushed for quick ethics reform and got it passed last week. Here are the changes:

  • Commissioners must disclose any business relationships they have with applicants and recuse themselves.
  • The revolving door between the MHDC and developers just stopped turning. Companies that hire former commissioners or employees of the commission now face a two year waiting period before they can come before the commission.
  • All developers will disclose all of their business relationships. So, for example, if a consultant who wrote the application for a developer has business ties with one of the commissioners, that conflict of interest will come to light.

The public yawns at news of this reform. It’ll only prevent a few undeserved millions from finding their way into the accounts of corrupt developers. Not sexy. But worth doing.

And oddly enough, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who also sits on the commission, tried to sandbag it last week. Having had two years (the reform moved at glacial speed under Steelman) to acquaint himself with its provisions–and after all, how busy is the Lieutenant Governor?–he wanted to delay the vote because, he said, he’d been traveling the previous two weeks and wasn’t familiar enough with the provisions of the reform. The other commissioners weren’t having his excuses, and except for Kinder, the vote to pass reform was unanimous.

I don’t know whether reform interfered with the plans of one of Kinder’s friends; whether–as a Republican–he just had to be an obstructionist; or whether he was actually too lazy to prepare himself for the vote.

Whatever. Zweifel is on the job. And so are the other commissioners. Thank you.

(Photo of Kinder courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)