[Update 6/21: Here's another reaction to the new planters.

toppled planter

The person who took this photo says at least four of the planters had been toppled as of Wednesday.]

There’s already been a lot of discussion about the new City of DeKalb/NIU ashtrays urinals planters at the City Barbs Facebook Page. I don’t want to duplicate those comments, but I do want to respond to the Chronicle’s take, which is as follows:

Thumbs up: To more collaboration between the city of DeKalb and Northern Illinois University. Forty planters were placed throughout DeKalb and campus Tuesday morning as part of an initiative spearheaded by the Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission to beautify the area. The planters feature a shrub surrounded by colorful flowers. Logos from NIU, the city and Proven Winners, which provided the plants and soil, are displayed on each container. While they may seem small, they brighten up our area.

Instead of the ugliness or the possible blocked wheelchair access or anything else that has been covered elsewhere, let’s go in a completely different direction, and by that I mean amateur psychology. Putting one’s new baby logos on 40 planters is an act that exemplifies perfectly the type of desperate insecurity that prevails in the running of this town. It’s a form of “shopping therapy” for massaging fragile egos, which is not only the worst possible motivation for public spending but almost guarantees the result will be objectionable, if not downright grotesque.

It’s not just the planters, either. The Art Deco stuff on the east side, the purple banners, and the new street signs all inhabit this category. The “planners” keep throwing up kitsch with no guiding sense of design. The Plan itself has lost whatever coherence it might have had.

OK, yeah, I’m a little extra cranky because I’ve been looking at the city’s budgeted vs. actual revenues and the latest projections again, and they don’t look so hot. I hope to have updated year-over-year charts for you soon in an effort to show DeKalb’s expenditures should stick strictly to the things we need.

Meantime, let’s think about how many square feet of concrete sidewalks could have been replaced in one of our neglected neighborhoods for the cost of the planter “collaboration.”