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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 23, 201212:00 PM EST

Blaylock to retire Sept. 30

by: David Chapman

Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Michael Blaylock and the JTA board announced this morning that Blaylock will retire from his position effective Sept. 30 rather than his initial contract date of 2014.

“It’s been a great ride, but 35 years is a long time,” Blaylock said at a special board meeting, referring to 35 years in public service, including 30 with the JTA.

The board will launch a national search for his successor. It voted unanimously on Blaylock’s contract amendment to move his retirement to this year. Several board members praised his contributions.

The announcement comes exactly a month after Blaylock apologized to JTA board members and vowed policy changes following a Florida Times-Union investigation into JTA bus drivers’ criminal and driving records.

At a previous meeting, Blaylock called the Times-Union investigation’s findings “very, very disappointing” and accepted responsibility for corrective action. At that time, JTA Board Chair Ed Burr called the findings “an embarrassment for the authority and an embarrassment for everyone on this board.”

During that meeting, Blaylock said he was “absolutely committed” to “make this right” and that any disciplinary action based on review would be announced by the end of March.

“I have to take responsibility for when things go wrong,” Blaylock told board members at the Feb. 23 meeting.

Blaylock and Burr said today that Blaylock has been discussing his retirement with board members the past couple of weeks. Blaylock said it was his decision to retire.

Board member Cleve Warren said after the meeting that the investigation was not the reason for Blaylock’s decision and that Blaylock was not forced out.

A Jacksonville native, Blaylock joined JTA in 1982 and assumed the role of executive director and CEO in 2002, succeeding Derek Morse.

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