Oprah's Shut Down "Smacks of Elitism," Officials Say

She didn't give 45-days notice

By Andrew Greiner
|  Friday, Sep 4, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM CDT
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Oprah Winfrey is the queen of daytime talk.

But some city officials are not happy with her highness’ plan to hold court on Michigan Avenue next week, closing down Chicago’s busiest shopping district.

"It smacks of elitism,” Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Allen (38th Ward) told the Sun-Times.  “The citizens own the street. Maybe they should ask the people how they feel."

"The word on the street from people I've talked to is, they're shocked. ... Somebody made the decision to do that with very little if any public input," he said.

The real sticking point for Allen is that Winfrey did not give ward alderman Brendan Reilly 45 days notice, as is required for street festivals.

Reilly said he knew about the event for all of 10 days, the Sun-Times reports.

"I certainly would have preferred to have more notice than I was given so we could have spent more time working with impacted stakeholders downtown to ensure that road closures and restrictions were done with sensitivity to local concerns," Reilly said.

The city’s special events spokeswoman, however, defended Winfrey.

"This falls under the category of film and TV production. Those require a two-day notice. This has been much more than a two-day notice," she said.

The city will close Michigan Avenue between Wacker and Ohio from 12:01 a.m. Monday until 5 a.m. Wednesday.

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