City Clerk Lana Keesling releases audio she says shows ‘retaliation’ by Mayor Tom Henry

Lana Keesling and Tom Henry

A day after Mayor Tom Henry offered to restore City Clerk Lana Keesling’s parking space that was reassigned following a dispute over a parking ticket, Keesling has released an audio recording of a Feb. 8 conversation she contends documents his retaliation against her.

“The mayor’s response to the parking ticket was that this was a ‘disagreement’ about a parking space. There is a far bigger picture here that an elected official was bullied and retaliated against for doing the job she was elected to do,” Keesling said in a statement. “The mayor stated Citizens Square is his building and he can do whatever he wants,” she said, noting that she is releasing the recording she made without Henry’s knowledge in order to “give a more accurate picture of what happened.”

Below is raw audio of the Feb. 8, 2018 conversation between Lana Keesling and Tom Henry, beginning at 2:24.

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One of Keesling’s parking officers wrote Henry’s city-owned vehicle a $100 ticket earlier this month for having a temporary plate that expired Dec. 24. The city said at the time the car had been purchased in November and payment for a license sent to the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles shortly thereafter.

The permanent plate has since been installed, and the fine paid.

In the recording, Keesling said “her hands were tied” about writing the ticket, and that following News-Sentinel stories about the expired plate and ticket she would have faced unfavorable publicity had she not enforced the law impartially.

“We were told not to worry about” a ticket for a city-owned car, Henry said, suggesting he could generate negative publicity for Keesling by racking up parking fines the city would have to pay using tax dollars.

“I didn’t start this; I was put in the middle of it,” Keesling said on the recording.

In a statement, city spokesman John Perlich said “We’re disappointed Clerk Keesling recorded a recent, private meeting with the mayor without the mayor’s knowledge . . . Mayor Henry wants to move forward and restore his relationship with Clerk Keesling. That effort began late yesterday with his outreach to the clerk to reinstitute the parking spot she previously had . . . We don’t want the recent and unfortunate disagreement to get in the way of the mayor and clerk serving the public with excellent services.”