What began as a routine proposal to rename a portion of a downtown Toledo street after a deceased businessman escalated into a full blown controversy that has come full circle with the idea being shelved.
Toledo City Councilman Steve Steel, who sponsored and introduced the legislation last month, asked that the legislation be tabled during city council deliberations on Tuesday. Steel told the Toledo Blade that he received a plethora of e-mails denouncing the idea to rename one block of Erie Street after Joe Wicks.
Joe Wicks passed away in 2010. He owned several buildings, including Ceasar's Show Lounge at 725 Jefferson Avenue, which featured nightly drag queen shows.
Supporters of Wicks say he was an icon in Toledo's gay and lesbian community who deserved the honor of having a street named after him. But Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou says many downtown business owners expressed their opposition to the idea.
"The fact of the matter is that the downtown business commmunity contacted me and other members of council and they were outraged that a street would be renamed in his honor when he did not take care of his property," Sarantou said.
Lair Scott, a long time friend of Wicks who asked Steel to sponsor the street renaming proposal, reacted angrily to what Sarantou had to say.
"It's a bunch of crap; the guy's a homophobe," Scott said.
Sarantou countered that the decision to table the street renaming proposal had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of Joe Wicks.