’Freedom’ group calls on Key citizens to fight privatization plan for Rickenbacker

Key Biscayne residents continue to look for allies in their efforts to convince Miami-Dade County officials to rescind the current privatization bid for the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Email notifications sent from a “professional non-profit organization” known as County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF USA) — which on its Instagram page notes it is “Defending God, Family Values & Freedom” — are asking residents to step up their game plan.

The group email campaign was sent ahead of Mayor Cava’s virtual meeting Monday night discussing what the next action should be for Rickenbacker Causeway improvements based on her opinions from a recent self-commissioned Value for Money assessment regarding the “Plan Z Consortium” Request for Proposal.

CCDF leaders, who aren’t shy about having their voices heard when it comes to defending citizens’ constitutional rights, were in the news this year when two of its members were handcuffed and arrested for disorderly conduct on Village property, ironically, before a town meeting regarding the Rickenbacker privatization process, when they refused to wear masks in defiance of the Village’s mask requirements.

The latest, unsigned note from CCDF, calling for the termination of RFP-01982, asks readers to fill out the remainder of a pre-written letter to Mayor Levine Cava, Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales, and County Commissioners, was confirmed as legitimate by Alejandro Serrano, an executive director of the group/s Miami-Dade branch. The letter stating:

“Pursuant to Miami-Dade County’s intention to privatize the Rickenbacker Causeway; as concerned residents of Miami-Dade county (sic), we hereby notify you that we consider this to be a veiled process with limited public participation and with design-criteria that is oriented towards recreation rather than mobility.

“Moreover, there is a concerning lack of historical data regarding the County’s toll collection and maintenance which is critical information necessary for stakeholders to assess and determine the most beneficial process to pursue.

“Lastly, critical factors relating to current structural needs such as a new Beat Cut Bridge, and repairs to the Powell Bridge are life safety improvements, ones that are not being given the priority they deserve.

“We therefore hereby demand that this RFP process be terminated immediately. In addition, regarding future RFP processes for the Rickenbacker Causeway, we request that an impartial commission be formed to engage in a public, participatory, and transparent process that assures the needs of Key Biscayne and all Miami-Dade county residents are met.”

The letter from the organization points out that Mayor Levine Cava has come up with two strategic procurement options at this point:

1. Cancel the unsolicited RFP Plan Z process and restart an RFP at a later date after seeking out potential federal funding and more public input with a transparent, open process, or

2. Continue the current unsolicited process with adjustments.

The letter says: “Given the lack of transparency with the unsolicited RFP-01982 process, residents are urged to communicate with Mayor Cava and the Board of Commissioners to pursue Option 1. ... The Rickenbacker Causeway is the only main artery for Key Biscayne residents to enter/exit the Village, and for Miami-Dade county residents to access and enjoy the various parks within Virginia Key and Key Biscayne, we urge residents to send an email requesting to immediately rescind the RFP-01982.”

That, in essence, has been the stance taken by Village Mayor Mike Davey and all of the Council members since adopting a “rescind” resolution on Sept. 30.

Village Manager Steve Williamson, who in an open letter published last week by the Islander News, asked residents not only to show appreciation to the County Mayor and District Commissioner Raquel Regalado “for their thoughtful and deliberate assessment of the project, its process and the value for money assessment,” but also calmness.

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