The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

June 30, 2014

Hey, Donald, here's how to do a sign

Consider the Chicago Sun-Times.

Not the media company, but the two matching signs — "Chicago Sun-Times" — on our riverfront building.

The signs are a flat and muted color. They are set demurely to the left of center. They are backlit after dark by the softest light, like candlelight at a quiet dinner.

They are good neighbors, sociable but not loud. They add a touch of hometown color to the graceful bend in the river below.

We like to think that the two signs, not to lay it on too thick, reflect the spirit of the Sun-Times itself, a news operation in print and online that we like to think serves as a friendly beacon in a city we serve and understand.

Aren't we great?

But then there is Donald Trump, who has a sign, too.

Trump's sign — "TRUMP" — now being affixed to his skyscraper on the Chicago River, is no friendly beacon. It is no candlelit dinner. It is anything but a good neighbor.

It is, rather, an obnoxious New York interloper, not unlike The Donald himself.

It is Donald Trump in stainless steel, braying for attention, front and center in everybody's sightline, impossible to miss. All it lacks is the hair.

Chicago's downtown riverscape, especially that stretch from Lake Michigan to where the river forks, grows more attractive by the year, adorned by old and new stylish buildings — definitely including Trump Tower — and lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants, walkways and greenery. But it is a functional elegance, more understated Midwest than brash New York.

You won't find many building signs along the river, but there are some, most of them reasonable in design, size and placement. At their best, such as the Boeing logo affixed unobtrusively high atop its building, the signs say something good about Chicago — this is a happening town for corporate headquarters — without despoiling the view.

If only The Donald had consulted with us before putting up his gaudy sign. We could have explained to him how such things are done west of Times Square.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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