WASHINGTON -- Two small, but long overdue, first steps were taken last week in what is likely to be a long march through the minefields of the regulatory system that is needed to maintain public confidence in the municipal bond market.

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, under pressure from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress to do more than hold meetings at posh watering holes, finally took notice of the widening investigations into possible political influence peddling involving bond deals in New Jersey and New York City.

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