tampabay.com

Leader says his vote led to smear attempt

A package delivered to the Times anonymously is an effort to question his integrity, says council member Tom Lackey.

By JODIE TILLMAN
Published July 7, 2006


NEW PORT RICHEY - One of the three council members who voted against publicly financing Main Street Landing says that decision led someone to question his professional integrity.

Council member Tom Lackey complained during the meeting Wednesday night that somebody had delivered an anonymous package to the Times that raised questions about his status as a Realtor.

A reporter had questioned Lackey about the information hours before the meeting.

Lackey said the information was meant to smear him because of his vote.

"That's the entire issue," he said in an interview. "Why would anyone bother to look up my license? ... They're hung up on this (Main Street Landing) issue and they're looking for some dirt."

The package included a photograph of Lackey's van advertising "market analysis" services, along with information from the state of Florida showing his real estate license is inactive.

Under state law, a person cannot work in real estate without an active license.

Lackey, 59, said he hasn't gotten around to scraping the glued vinyl sign off his van windows since resigning from Florida Realty Centers about a month ago.

When he left, he said, his license automatically became inactive by state law. He said he has not practiced real estate since then. (The Hudson Beach-based Florida Realty Center confirmed Lackey had worked for the company until about a month ago.)

"I'm not practicing at all right now," said Lackey, who retired as a maintenance technician from a Michigan school system in 2003.

He said he had been working in the real estate business on a part-time basis for extra money.

According to the state, a person with an inactive license would have to notify the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to return his license to active status.

He raised the matter during the comment session at the end of the Wednesday meeting.

"Just because my license is inactive at this particular time really means nothing," he said during the meeting.