Billionaire pees in Duluth’s Cheerios

Kathy Cargill leaves Duluth worse than she found it.

But maybe she’ll leave Duluth alone now.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. Billionaire meets Duluth. Billionaire loves Duluth. Billionaire tries to buy Duluth. Duluth has a few questions. Billionaire withholds pickleball from Duluth.

For months, Cargill — wife of an heir to a fortune — had been buying house after house after house along the seven-mile sand bar known as Park Point. The Cargills have a fabulous vacation home up north, but she wanted more.

Many of the properties along Park Point were pleasant, modest homes — still within the realm of middle-class affordability in a city facing a desperate housing shortage. Until a shell corporation started offering the neighbors double or even triple their homes’ value. As each sale went through, bulldozers moved in, replacing housing with vacant lots.

It was Cargill, of course. For months, she ignored questions from the neighbors and the city. Questions like: Whatcha doing? You wouldn’t happen to be planning to turn an entire neighborhood full of public parks and public beaches into some sort of weird gated community for future billionaires to ride out the coming climate crisis in “Climate-Proof Duluth,” hmm?

Finally, the billionaire spoke.

Yes, she admitted, she had been snapping up properties, claiming she wanted to build a few homes for her relatives and spruce up the neighborhood. Besides, she said, all the homes she was bulldozing were “pieces of crap” and full of garter snakes.

In return for jacking up everybody else’s property taxes with her inflated purchase prices and unleashing homeless garter snakes on the world, she swore — billionaire’s honor — that she had planned to give the neighborhood a nice new coffee shop and maybe some pickleball courts.

Think of the theoretical pickleball courts Duluth could have had. If only they had silently, reverently and unquestioningly let a passing billionaire do whatever she pleased. But Duluth’s mild curiosity seems to have soured Cargill on the idea of snapping up an entire 7-mile sandbar.

“The good plans that I have down there for beautifying, updating and fixing up Park Point park or putting up that sports court, forget it,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s another community out there with more welcoming people than that small-minded community,” she said.

And then she unleashed the world’s most revolting metaphor on an unprepared Minnesota.

Referring to newly elected Duluth Mayor Roger Reinert, who had suggested that residents hold off on selling their homes until Cargill did the polite thing and actually talked to her neighbors, Cargill said: “I think an expression that we all know — don’t pee in your Cheerios — well, he kind of peed in his Cheerios right there, and definitely I’m not going to do anything to benefit that community.”

Reinert, who was out at 3 a.m. Monday morning, riding along with city plows as they dug out between snow storms, responded Minnesota Nicely by posting a picture of his actual breakfast. It was pancakes. That other expression is not an expression we all know, Kathy Cargill.

Cargill told the Wall Street Journal she still plans to hang out in her stately vacation home in Duluth, possibly out of pure spite.

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