City clerk releases secretly taped conversation with Mayor

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) City Clerk Lana Keesling has released a secretly taped a conversation she had with the mayor over a license plate citation. She said it backs up her claims that Mayor Tom Henry retaliated against her because her office ticketed his city-owned vehicle.

According to Keesling, a Parking Control Officer saw the vehicle parked in the Citizen’s Square parking lot on Feb. 6 and realized the temporary license plate was expired. The officer, realizing it may have been the mayor’s vehicle, called Keesling to ask how to proceed.  Keesling told the officer to write the ticket.

Keesling said the Mayor was upset after the car was ticketed. After the two exchanged words, the mayor decided to re-assign parking spots at Citizens Square, moving Keesling to a different spot. She believes Mayor Henry did this in retaliation for the ticket.

Mayor Henry has since offered to rectify the situation by creating a parking spot for Keesling in the underground garage near the original parking spot she had been using.

Newschannel 15 obtained an e-mail from City Spokesman John Perlich. He said was sent by Mayor Henry to Keesling late Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s become apparent the reassignment of parking spaces at Citizens Square has caused you a lot of angst,” He wrote. “To forego any additional stress on your part, I have asked the Deputy Mayor to contact the building staff to try to accommodate your desire to park in the building.”

The e-mail goes on to say, it may take some time to make an additional spot available. The mayor added that he hoped to “ease some of the tension.”

Wednesday, Keesling released a 16 minute recording of a private conversation she had with the mayor on Feb. 8. The mayor had no idea he was being recorded. In the recording she asked repeatedly if he was retaliating against her by reassigning parking. Henry also had choice words for Kevin Leininger, of the News-Sentinel, who initially broke the story.

On Monday, Keesling released a series of related emails between herself, Henry and several other city officials. In the messages, which were dated Feb. 6, the Mayor asks Keesling to return her parking pass and indicates parking will be reassigned.

She said arranged a meeting on Feb. 8 with Henry in an effort to deescalate the tension. During that meeting, Keesling said she was threatened and told several times the mayor was retaliating against her.

“I saw a dark side of Mayor Henry,” said Keesling in a press release. “He tried to bully me by aggressively retaliating against me for doing the right thing.”

Keesling said Henry told her, “I can do whatever I want; it’s my building” and that she felt “contempt and disrespect as an elected official and a woman.”

Perlich acknowledged that there was  a disagreement between Keesling and Henry, however denies that the Mayor is abusing his power. Perlich said Henry and Keesling have had a “positive working relationship since she became clerk.”

He released the following statement:

Mayor Henry was disappointed by a recent ticket that was issued to a City of Fort Wayne vehicle that’s been assigned to him. The City took possession of the vehicle in Nov. 2017 with a temporary license plate. The plate had an expiration date of 12-24-17. The City did not receive the permanent license plate until after the temporary plate had expired. The City Clerk’s office was aware of the situation and that the permanent plate would be arriving soon, which it did last week, the same day a ticket was issued.