I went in front of our local town council tonight and tried to read all of the following. Unfortunately, I got to the "fool me once" part before I was cut off due to a 3 minute time limit. Here is the entire statement:
Good evening Mayor and council members,
I am here before you tonight to address some concerns I have read over recent allegations regarding Mrs. Toni Valenzuela. Last month, some troubling stories emerged in the East Valley Tribune and Arizona Republic regarding the conduct of Councilwoman Valenzuela. As all of you know, the stories alleged that Councilwoman Valenzuela used her position of power to coerce and intimidate the parties behind the Vanderbuilt Farms project. Those parties allege that Mrs. Valenzuela contacted them to advise them that unless they arranged for her restaurant to be purchased, she would vote no on their project. This is a very serious allegation and with the exception of one of you, you all have taken this matter very seriously by voting in favor of hiring an investigator and recommending further investigation by the State Attorney Generals office into possible open meeting violations and conflict of interest charges. I am left to wonder why one of you decided that this matter wasn't serious enough to turn it over to officials to investigate but that is for you to answer.
Her response to these charges is that is a simple misunderstanding and she points to the vote she made that night in favor of the proposal as her proof that there were no illegal actions taken. The allegations from the parties involved with Vanderbuilt Farms came days after the vote in the form of a letter to the town attorney. They insist they did not arrange to buy the councilwoman's business but felt it was important for town officials to know that these events occurred. This led to a he said, she said situation and at the time I was willing to give Mrs. Valenzuela the benefit of the doubt.
Then came the evening of the vote to decide whether to hire an investigator and turn this matter over to state officials. I honestly never expected to read the next set of allegations that stemmed from that night's meeting. As you all have probably read, there were allegations that Councilwoman Valenzuela approached fellow Councilwoman Colletto Cohen and threatened her with the statement "Your ass is mine". Mrs. Colletto Cohen felt this issue was serious enough to press charges and bring this issue to the attention of the town's attorney. Mrs. Valenzuela promptly left the town council chambers and later stated she had an emergency to tend to. When questioned about this incident, she again stated that there was a misunderstanding. She states, what she meant to say is she "wishes she had her butt", which changes things from a threat to possible sexual harassment. I again was willing to give things the benefit of the doubt until I read there was a witness who saw the entire exchange and verified Councilwoman Colleto Cohen's side of the story.
To this latest explanation I have to say "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". I can no longer believe that every contact Mrs. Valenzuela has ends in a complete misunderstanding of what was said.
Mrs. Valenzuela, as you are not only a mother, a wife and a grandmother, but also an elected official, it's up to you to lead by example and let the truth be known. You can choose to deny all the allegations and let the town pay for the cost to investigate the charges or you can do the honorable move by stepping down from your position as councilwoman and fully cooperating with any investigation. Respect the people of this community, do the right thing and resign as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time.