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Seneca Falls supervisor wants to end funding for Women's Hall of Fame because of Fonda induction

A town official in the Finger Lakes wants to pull funding from the National Women’s Hall of Fame because he is not happy with one of this year’s inductees.

Seneca Falls Supervisor Greg Lazzaro has a resolution he’d like to see considered at the Town Board meeting next week which would end financial donations for events associated with the Hall, because one of this year’s inductees is Jane Fonda.

Lazarro says the town has given financial donations of nearly $279,000 to the Hall since 2010, and also helped them secure a federal grant of nearly $421,000.

But Lazarro says he’s upset that Fonda is one of this year’s 10 inductees, pointing to her visit to North Vietnam in 1972. She was an anti-war protester and was invited  by the North Vietnamese. Her appearance, including a photo of her sitting at an anti-aircraft gun, enraged some veterans and other Americans.

Lazarro says some of his constituents are also upset about Fonda’s induction into the Women’s Hall of Fame.

“I got a number of calls from people in the community, a number of people stopped me when I was out, talked with me about the National Women’s Hall of Fame inducting Jane Fonda and they said they were concerned about it,” Lazarro told WXXI News.

The resolution proposed by Lazarro says that Fonda’s visit to North Vietnam brought “divisiveness to our country” and it says that it is viewed by “virtually all veterans as treason.”

In the years since that happened, Fonda apologized for the antiaircraft gun photo, but maintains she was not a traitor.

While Lazzaro wants to see funding ended for events involving the National Women’s Hall of Fame, he still supports the overall concept of what the Hall represents.

“This is a great monument to great women and it should remain a great monument and a great organization to great women. But when it comes to a group of people who are supporting Jane Fonda as a great woman in that great monument, it’s wrong, and we need to stand up,” Lazzaro said.

The Seneca Falls Town Board will consider the resolution at next Tuesday’s board meeting. 

The National Women's Hall of Fame issued this statement:

"The National Women’s Hall of Fame selected Seneca Falls, N.Y., as its home 50 years ago. Since its incorporation in 1969, the Hall has helped bring thousands of visitors to the region each year and has been an economic generator for the Town of Seneca Falls and the entire Finger Lakes Region. With the upcoming rehabilitation of the 1844 Seneca Knitting Mill, an historical treasure, we are on the cusp of opening the $8M facility’s first floor which will bring additional tourists to the Town, helping to keep its mark on the national map. 

The National Women’s Hall of Fame has always honored and respected the Town’s important decisions to stand up for what was not historically deemed popular. The Hall is forever grateful for the steady hand that has always guided the Town to celebrate women’s achievements. We are, however, disappointed that we have not had the opportunity to meet with the Town to discuss its proposed resolution or the basis behind it. The National Women’s Hall of Fame board welcomes the opportunity to create an open dialogue to discuss the Town’s concerns. We believe that all voices should be heard before there is such a drastic step as the proposed resolution. That’s what democracy, and the efforts of women’s suffrage, are all about."

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.