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State’s public safety director retires

Tom Charles could end up at JobsOhio.

Ohio Public Safety Director Thomas P. Charles retired Wednesday after nearly 50 years in the Ohio Highway Patrol and state government, a day before reforms to the state pension system took effect.

Gov. John Kasich’s office announced Charles’s departure Wednesday afternoon. Charles, 70, could land in an advisory role at JobsOhio, the nonprofit established and championed by Kasich.

JobsOhio spokesperson Laura Jones confirmed that Charles is in talks with JobsOhio but declined to provide details of what he would do.

In a statement, JobsOhio President John Minor said he was excited about the opportunity of Charles working with JobsOhio.

“He is a man of unmatched integrity and his experience and knowledge would be invaluable to JobsOhio in a number of different ways,” Minor said.

Charles previously served as the state’s top watchdog. He was appointed inspector general by Republican Gov. George V. Voinovich and reappointed by Republican Gov. Bob Taft and Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

Under Charles, the inspector general’s office completed several high-profile investigations including one into the Public Safety Department that prompted then-Public Safety Director Cathy Collins-Taylor to resign.

Kasich appointed Charles public safety director in 2010. Charles made $134,000 in 2012, according to the state salary database. Charles’ wife and son work for the Highway Patrol.

“He provided a steady hand for the Patrol when it was needed and once again showed us all what principled leadership means,” Kasich said in a statement. “I will miss him but know he’ll always be ready and willing to serve when Ohio needs him or I need him.”

Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. John Born has already been sworn in to replace Charles. Born named Col. Paul Pride to his old post.

The announcement gave Democrats another opportunity to ding JobsOhio, which they have criticized for its lack of transparency in using public dollars.

“For once, Governor Kasich and JobsOhio are being transparent — just not in a good way,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Matt McGrath said in a statement. “This is obviously a PR-driven reaction to reports detailing major conflicts of interest and ineffectiveness at JobsOhio, and does nothing to change the fundamental flaw of the JobsOhio model: that it’s a secretive agency given access to huge sums of taxpayer dollars with next to no accountability. “

No reason was given for Charles’s retirement, but department spokesman Joe Andrews said the decision was not a surprise.

By retiring on July 31, Charles avoids paying future higher interest rates on any annuity claimed since being rehired in state government.

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