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Billionaire Park Point Land-Grabber Ignores Polite Letter from Duluth Mayor

Plus revisiting the MPS data breach, Kmart plan concerns, and Uptown debates in today's Flyover news roundup.


The mayor has “concerns.”

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Sandbar Drama Intensifies

Folks across Minnesota have been wondering what, exactly, the fuck is up with a wretched billionaire family hoovering up land in Park Point, the world's longest freshwater sandbar, which extends from downtown Duluth into Lake Superior.

Last week, reports emerged that an LLC belonging to Kathy Cargill, a McLaren-loving heir to the vast Cargill agribusiness empire, had closed on additional properties, putting her total land grab at 20+ parcels to date. So far, Cargill's only public comments involve threatening to sue the Duluth News Tribune last year for writing about her wheelings/dealings, and describing the homes she's buying and razing as "pieces of crap." Residents are understandably worried sick.

Which brings us to Monday's City Council meeting, where new Mayor Roger Reinert alerted councilors to a letter he had sent to Cargill the previous month. In it, he inquired about meeting with her to discuss her mysterious plans for Park Point. "I received no reply, so intend to send another," Reinert wrote today via Facebook, indicating that he's at least doing the bare minimum. "I am inviting any of our City Councilors who are interested to co-sign it with me. Communicating intent to the city and our neighbors would go a long way in easing minds."

The mayor went on to say he's checking with the city attorney about "other actions" the community might be able to take, and reminded followers that, while it's perfectly legal for an LLC to go on a buying spree, residents don't have to accept Cargill's reportedly inflated offers for their homes. The most reassuring bit from Reinert's update came when he declared, "PARKS will remain PARKS, and no matter who owns the adjacent properties the beach WILL REMAIN PUBLIC!"

Considering that environmental nonprofit Mighty Earth once described Cargill, which is America's largest private corporation, as "The Worst Company
In the World,"
it's probably wise to not assume the stupefyingly rich family behind it might harbor selfish plans for Park Point. In the meantime, take a look at a map of their purchases below, and feel free to remember the now-leveled pieces of crap Kathy Cargill couldn't imagine living in.

Remember the Massive Minneapolis Public Schools Cyber Attack?

Almost exactly a year ago, right as details of the historic cyber attack on Minneapolis Public Schools began to trickle out, we spoke with cybersecurity expert/hacker/concerned MPS parent Ian Coldwater about the scope of the incident. "Schools and hospitals have been increasingly targeted for ransomware groups because they have lots of sensitive data and, frankly, because they might have more lax security practices than large corporations. They’re easy targets," they told us. Yesterday, All Things Considered listeners heard more or less what you just re-heard from Coldwater: Cyber criminals are increasing attacks on public school kids because sure enough, they're easy targets. NPR's Kavitha Cardoza made Minneapolis schools the subject of this report, which found that the number of K-12 school data breaches exploded from 45 to 108 between 2022 and 2023.

Twin Cities Innovation Alliance co-founder Marika Pfefferkorn told NPR that some of the hyper-personal information that was stolen from 100,000+ current and former MPS students, like sexual assault records, contributed to the bullying of victims when it went public. These types of attacks can reportedly haunt students well into adulthood, yet another reason their frequency is increasing. Interestingly, MPS didn't grant an interview to NPR; "I don’t think the district has been dealing with it well," Coldwater told us last year. For Minneapolis parent Rachael Flanery, the stakes were initially difficult to even comprehend. "I tried to just kind of be an ostrich about it, right?" she says. "I put my head back in the sand, and I kind of was in the mindset of, well, if there's a knock on my door and [someone] tells me my 7-year-old just bought a boat, I'll show him where he is! And hopefully it won't be hard to get the charges reversed."

White People Are Dominating the Kmart Site Discussion

So reports H. Jiahong Pan for the the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder: The concerns of white people between the ages of 20-39 have been overwhelmingly represented at community meetings and in surveys regarding proposals for the ol' Minneapolis Kmart site. (If you've ever been scolded by a local urbanist on Twitter, this demographic reveal will be unsurprising.) Some activists aren't happy, especially since about 52% of residents in the immediate area are people of color, according to census data.

“They don’t feel like they’ve been included, especially regarding the deployment and what the neighborhood should look like,” Farhio Khalif tells MSR. “People want to know how they can be involved.” Other activists worry that kids' voices aren't being considered, though city officials pushed back against concerns about a lack of inclusivity. Also at issue: Whether or not that stretch of restored Nicollet Avenue should be exclusive to public transit, bikes, and pedestrians. Transportation advocates say the city's vision, which includes access for privately owned vehicles, is at odds with rhetoric about combating climate change, Pan reports.

Uptown Discourse!!!

The unquenchable civic desire to debate the pulse of Minneapolis's Uptown neighborhood trudged ahead this week, with one business owner demanding to WCCO: "People need to start coming back." (An Uptown resident countered with: "It's not fun anymore.") Reporter David Schuman's scene report is the latest in a long line since 2020—who could forget Racket's 2021 contribution to the genre? These days, we're sympathetic to the take below from friend of Racket Mike Norton; stick around for his fight with the Minnetonka guy:

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