SENECA FALLS — The Birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement continues to buzz following Thursday’s announcement by town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro that he will ask the board to cut off funding to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The reason? The Hall’s plan to induct Jane Fonda as part of its Class of 2019 in September.
Lazzaro noted Fonda’s opposition to the Vietnam War — that included Fonda’s visit to Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, which Lazzaro said was basically treasonous and an insult to veterans — as the reason he will introduce the motion at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.
In anticipation of a large group of speakers at the meeting, which will start at 6 p.m., it has been moved to the Community Center on Water Street.
A walk through downtown Seneca Falls Friday produced opinions on both sides of the issue.
In Parker’s Grille & Tap House on Fall Street, Joe Bradley said he agreed with the resolution.
“I remember Hanoi Jane. My brother was serving at that time she did those things,” Bradley said. “I think it’s good to have a discussion about this issue. I can also agree with some of what Mr. Avery (Town Board member Doug) said, so I can see both sides. It’s good to have a conversation.”
Vietnam veteran Mike Lambert of Fayette also agreed with Lazzaro’s stance.
“I don’t agree with what Jane Fonda did, and her apology didn’t cut it with me,” said Lamber before adding, “I’m not sure it’s legal for the town to give money to the Hall of Fame.”
At Kirk-Casey American Legion Post 366 on State Street, most people sitting at the bar declined to comment, although some could be heard muttering disparaging remarks about the actress.
Jim Bruning said he understands why veterans oppose Fonda’s induction, but isn’t sure cutting off Hall of Fame funding is the right approach.
“I can think of a lot more people to be upset about being inducted,” Bruning said. “I don’t think it’s a smart move to do this. ... It makes no sense. The town should let this issue alone.”
Becky Bly, owner of WomanMade Products on Fall Street, put up a sign saying “We Support the National Women’s Hall of Fame” in the window of the Downtown Deli. Her own store also has a large sign reading “Greg Lazzaro Does Not Speak for Me.” The same sign is in the window of The Copy Shop.
“I think it’s outrageous,” Bly said. “(Lazzaro) has stepped over a line with this one. He does not represent all of this town or the Town Board, who didn’t know about it. We could have let people voice their opinions, but doing this is not right. It hurts us a great deal. Some people have already called to say they won’t come back here if this passes. It has the potential to hurt Seneca Falls and its desire to attract visitors.
“It’s bizarre. People who visit the Hall also spend money downtown. If they don’t come and do that, it hurts us.”
Bly called the controversy over Fonda’s anti-war protests old news.
“Jane Fonda has apologized for some of what she did,” Bly said. “A lot of Americans were against the war. Jane Fonda was against the war, not the soldiers.”
Bly said the Seneca Falls Business Association plans to issue a statement opposing Lazzaro’s measure (see a copy of that at www.fltimes.com).
A handful of people in Red’s Place on Fall Street declined to comment. A bit further west, two younger adults at Bee’s Café said they didn’t know who Jane Fonda is.
On Thursday, Avery and fellow Town Board member Lou Ferrara Jr. weighed in on the resolution. Ferrara echoed Lazzaro’s strong opposition to Fonda’s induction, but did not say if he would vote for the resolution. Avery expressed opposition to the motion, saying it’s nothing the board should have a say in.
On Friday, board member David DeLelys wrote in an email that “personally, I was blindsided” when he saw the motion.
“This never should have happened without first talking to the board about it,” DeLelys said. “The town should not be interfering with the Hall on this issue. Let their committee decide who to induct.”
The final board member, Vic Porretta, did not respond to a request for comment. Some believe Porretta’s vote could determine whether the resolution passes or not.