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Resolution by Seneca Falls town supervisor to end Women's Hall of Fame funding fails

Caitlin Whyte

The Seneca Falls Town Board on Tuesday night rejected a resolution to end funding for the Women's Hall of Fame if it inducts Jane Fonda.

But that was only after over an hour of passionate debate between Hall supporters and Vietnam veterans on Fonda's actions in the 1970s.

Last week, town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro proposed a resolution that would end town financial donations for events associated with the hall because of Fonda's nomination.

Vern Brewer was one of the many Vietnam veterans who were at the meeting to protest Fonda's nomination. They said seeing her travels to North Vietnam during the war were disrespectful, and said the hall should honor more women connected to the war.

"I'm here basically today to ask these feminists why they don't care about the mothers, the daughters of the dead," Brewer said.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Brewer was standing with Ken Lisk, a fellow veteran who called Fonda a "warmonger".

"I watched her in North Vietnam when I was in South Vietnam; it was not a good picture," Lisk said.

But there were Hall of Fame supporters as well. Many said the town doesn't have a place to decide who does or doesn't get inducted.

Susan Souhan from Seneca Falls supports the Hall of Fame.

"I am here also to support our veterans because they fought in a war that most people did not like but they did what their government told them to," Souhan said. "And I have nothing against the vets, I just think what our town supervisor has done is unfair to the hall."

Jill Byington, holding a sign of support, said the Hall of Fame is "a place for the world, it's not a place for just this town."

In the end, the resolution failed with three votes against it, one vote by the supervisor in favor, and one board member who opted not to vote.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Former Hall President Betty Brayer said she was relieved, but noted that the meeting showed a need for more communication between the Hall and the town.

"There's a lot of history and emotion in the room, and one of the things that struck me was how much dialogue is missing," Brayer said.

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