ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
91°
Sunny
H 91° L 78°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 91° L 78°
  • clear-day
    86°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 91° L 78°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

News
Puerto Rico governor resigns as promised; successor sworn in
Close

Puerto Rico governor resigns as promised; successor sworn in

Puerto Rico governor resigns as promised; successor sworn in
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo
Pedro Pierluisi, sworn in as Puerto Rico's governor, speaks during a press conference, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Departing Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello resigned as promised on Friday and swore in Pierluisi, a veteran politician as his replacement, a move certain to throw the U.S. territory into a period of political chaos that will be fought out in court. Pierluisi is flanked by lawmakers Jorge Navarro, left and Jose Aponte. (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

Puerto Rico governor resigns as promised; successor sworn in

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned Friday as promised, clearing the way for veteran politician Pedro Pierluisi to be sworn in as his replacement, a move that threw the U.S. territory into a period of fresh political uncertainty.

Rosselló had promised to step down in response to weeks of popular protest over mismanagement and a series of leaked chats in which he and advisers denigrated a range of Puerto Ricans. Because of problems with the qualifications of members of Rosselló's administration in the constitutional line of succession, it was unclear until the last minute who would become governor.

Pierluisi was named secretary of state, the next in line to be governor, in a recess appointment this week. In an emailed announcement from his office, Rosselló said Pierluisi would succeed him. He was sworn in by a judge at 5 p.m., the hour Rosselló had set to leave office.

Four hours later, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted that the municipality at 8 a.m. on Monday would be challenging Pierluisi's swearing in as governor. Meanwhile, a well-respected attorneys' organization accused Pierluisi of "hijacking" the constitution.

The territory's House of Representatives confirmed Pierluisi as secretary of state Friday, but the Senate has not yet voted on his appointment. Rosselló said confirmation by both houses was unnecessary for a recess appointment, an assertion that appeared certain to generate legal challenges.

After taking the oath at his sister's house, Pierluisi emerged at the governor's residence to address the press and promised only to serve as governor until the Senate's hearing on his nomination, which has been moved up to Monday. If the Senate votes no, Pierluisi said, he will step down and hand the governorship to the justice secretary, the next in line under the constitution.

Nothing more was heard from Rosselló.

Pierluisi said he was "fully capable and authorized to act, but the Senate will have its say."

Depending on the Senate's action, his tenure "could be very short-lived," he said. He did not plan to move into the governor's mansion until after the vote. He also said he would avoid any major changes and concentrate on meeting with top government officials.

The down-to-the-wire maneuvering risked political chaos and sowed bitterness and pessimism among Puerto Ricans about the fate of their island, which has been battered by years by bankruptcy and Hurricane Maria in 2017, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Only days ago, there was jubilation over the success of the popular movement to force Rosselló out of office. On Friday, Puerto Ricans bemoaned the confusion that left them not knowing who would be their next governor.

"People are disgusted with the government in general, not just Ricardo Rosselló, everyone," said Janeline Avila, 24, who recently received her degree in biotechnology.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, a member of Rosselló's party who is seen as a possible future governor, criticized Rosselló for naming Pierluisi and appeared to hint at fighting the succession plan.

"He never regretted anything," Schatz said of Rosselló. "He did not respect the demands of the people. In fact, he mocked them, using new accomplices."

Schatz said that order and morals will prevail: "No one should lose faith."

Hundreds of protesters marched to the governor's residence, the Fortaleza, banging pots and drums and singing the national anthem. Protesters had not been highly critical of Pierluisi before Friday but expressed disgust with the succession process and Pierluisi's ties to the federal control board that has promoted cutbacks on the island.

Bryan Carhu Castro Vega, a 21-year-old university student, said he was disappointed.

"It's obvious that the constitutional setup that we have isn't working for the people," he said. "None of the options is one the people chose or want or deserve."

Rosa Cifrian, a 47-year-old professor of nursing, said Pierluisi would not be a good governor "for the people."

"He'll keep promoting policies of austerity, cutbacks, everything that the board says," she said.

By late Friday night, police warned protesters that they would fire tear gas if needed as some chanted, "Guilty of the crisis! Pierluisi! Pierluisi!"

"Ideally, we would clean the entire house," said Roxana López, a 34-year-old musician who wanted fresh faces in top government positions.

The legislature, which is controlled by Pierluisi's New Progressive Party, erupted into cheers when the House voted 26-21, with one abstention, to confirm Pierluisi as secretary of state.

One constitutional amendment states that everyone in line to become governor has to be confirmed by both House and Senate, except for the secretary of state.

Constitutional law professor Carlos Ramos and other legal experts questioned the validity of that amendment and believed Pierluisi must be confirmed by the House and Senate because the amendment contradicts the intent of the constitution and its statement of motives.

Lawmakers and Pierluisi himself expressed concern that the continuing political uncertainty would damage Puerto Rico's efforts to get federal funds to recover from the hurricane and confront the economic crisis.

Several legislators have accused Pierluisi of a conflict of interest because he worked for a law firm that represents the control board, which has repeatedly clashed with local officials over demands for austerity measures.

Pierluisi, whose brother-in-law is the board's chairman, tried to dispel those concerns in his opening remarks.

"Who better than me to advocate for our people before the board? Who better than me to facilitate the process that will force the board to leave? That is what we all want," he said.

The board was created by Congress to oversee the restructuring of more than $70 billion in public debt after Puerto Rico declared a form of bankruptcy.

Pierluisi told lawmakers he is against several austerity measures demanded by the board, including laying off public employees and eliminating a Christmas bonus.

He said he supports public-private partnerships and the privatization of the island's public power company.

"The people want a change, and I don't blame them," he said.

A key obstacle for Pierluisi has been Rivera Schatz, who wants to run for governor himself next year. Several legislators have said they prefer Rivera Schatz over Pierluisi, but the Senate leader is a powerful figure deeply associated with Puerto Rico's political and business elite, and his elevation to the governorship could re-ignite popular outrage.

Pierluisi was Puerto Rico's non-voting representative in Congress from 2009 to 2017 and then ran against Rosselló in the 2016 primaries and lost. He also served as justice secretary under Rosselló's father, Pedro Rosselló, when he was governor.

Rosselló joined more than a dozen government officials who have resigned in the wake of an obscenity-laced chat in which they made fun of women, gay people and hurricane victims.

___

Associated Press writers Mariela Santos in San Juan and Michael Weissenstein in Havana contributed to this report.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Two weeks after WOKV reported that Jacksonville city leaders were looking to up the sakes for the fan experience around the annual Florida-Georgia game, Mayor Lenny Curry and other dignitaries on Friday announced the inaugural Bold City Bash.  The big weekend will begin with an exhibition baseball game between the Gators and Bulldogs at the Baseball Grounds on Friday, November 1st.  Following the exhibition game, country music star Brett Young and other special guests will perform, followed by fireworks. Tickets for both the game and concert/fireworks will cost $15 and go on sale September 3rd.  “It’s always good to have a little anticipation and mystery, so there will be two more acts announced in the weeks ahead”, said Mayor Curry.  There will also be events on the Flex Field at TIAA Bank Field before the football game on Saturday, November 2nd.  “Duval’s Bold City Bash is a signature addition to the Florida-Georgia game and will encompass an entire week of festivities”, said Bill McConnell, General Manager of SMG.  “It will energize Downtown and it will make the Sports Complex the place to be to celebrate the Florida-Georgia tradition before gameday”.  WOKV reported on August 8th that the Mayor’s budget request proposed spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more than prior years, to create a destination in the heart of the Sports Complex. “All the way from RV City, through the [Daily’s Place] Flex Field, in to the parking lots next to the stadium, out to APR [A. Philip Randolph Blvd.], and incorporating the Baseball Grounds and some of the different things on APR, including private businesses that are in the food and entertainment business, to try to connect them all together in a way that offers that whole area of the Sports and Entertainment District as a location for multiple events,” said Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes. Hughes said the intention is to activate this area for several days leading up to the game for both family-friendly activities and nightlife, with everything from live music to street vendors. WOKV started asking about the enhanced fan experience, after seeing a boost in a special events subfund in Mayor Curry’s proposed $1.4 billion budget. While the City plans to do the same annual events it hosts every year, like the Hall of Fame luncheon, they’re proposing budgeting several hundred thousand dollars more than last year in order to execute this vision. The budget proposal includes an addition over last year of more than $440,000 for miscellaneous Florida/Georgia expenses relating to event services and $75,000 in equipment rentals corresponding with the increase in services, among other areas. The exact price tag for the Bold City Bash was not yet available.  Fans will be encouraged to ‘activate’ during The Block Party along Adams Street and A. Philip Randolph Blvd. Live entertainment, food trucks, a beer garden and free giveaways will be part of the fanfare experience.  Per the game contract, all parties are currently in the first negotiation window, which goes up until a few days prior to this year’s game. The final game under this current contract is in 2021, but Brian Hughes says all parties are having productive talks, and he hopes to be able to work out a deal that extends the game in Jacksonville for many years to come. “We anticipate getting to the finish line,” he says. The last contract extension was for five years and gave the teams a combined $2.75 million in payments and incentives over the course of the contract, including annual guaranteed payments, travel expenses, and more. There are limited direct revenue opportunities for the City, like through the operation of concessions and Daily’s Place. The direct costs to the City, meanwhile, have continued to climb over the years, with this new enhanced fan experience being the latest element- since Hughes says it is intended that this be an annual event. In addition to the price of running the stadium operations, the cost of tickets for the game has increased, and the City is obligated under the contract to buy 1,000 each year. The City is reimbursing the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair $80,000 this year relating to costs they will incur because they agreed to delay the opening of the Fair by a week to avoid a conflict with the game. Additionally, the City is paying the Jags nearly $380,000 to acknowledge revenue the team is losing because of the impact of the temporary seating construction on their available tickets to sell for their game the weekend prior to FL/GA. The cost of constructing temporary bleachers at TIAA Bank Field to meet the contractual seating obligation for the game is a little more than $2.4 million this year, with the Jaguars reimbursing about $310,000 relating to the construction in the Club Levels. That number varies some year to year, and could see an increase soon, as the contract with the current vendor expires and negotiations are ongoing in relation to an extension. Hughes says the cost of the event is well worth it, considering the impact on the city. “Jacksonville gets a lot of benefit from it. The economic impacts are real, we fill hotel rooms, we have people going to dinner for multiple nights while they’re here, we have people going out to the beach, we have people enjoying our public spaces around Jacksonville, in addition to having game day,” he says. And it’s also about the tradition. “Both UGA and the University of Florida have deep alumni networks here. It’s become a great tradition for a neutral site game, it’s one of the most famous neutral site games and rivalries in college football, and has been for decades,” he says. Now is the time the City wants to build on that tradition, not only through the enhanced fan experience, but the possible permanent changes for the Sports Complex. The Administration is in the process of putting the finishing touches on an economic development agreement that will reflect around $233.3 million in City incentives for the $450 million development of Lot J at the stadium in to a mixed-use site with entertainment, office, hotel, and residential space. While that deal is still pending approval by the Downtown Investment Authority and the City Council, another project that is moving forward is the removal of the Hart Bridge ramps by the stadium. All of this will mean construction likely affecting the next couple of games after the 2019 one, but Hughes says it will be worth the hassle. “Ultimately, a couple of years on the other side of it, I think people will be amazed at how well both Jaguars games and other events in that area and the Florida/Georgia tradition will kind of fit together down there very well,” he says. The Mayor’s budget proposal- and the included funding for this enhanced fan experience complex- is still pending the vetting and approval of the Jacksonville City Council. A final vote will take place ahead of the start of the Fiscal Year October 1st.
  • A man has died as a result of a stabbing on Jacksonville’s westside.  Jacksonville Police say they received a 911 call on Thursday night from a person who said that his friend had just been stabbed on Kingston Street, off Commonwealth.  He told police they were driving the victim to UF Health on the northside. A short while later another 911 call came in about a crash at 8th Street and Davis.  Three people were inside the car, one person had a stab wound to the chest.  He was rushed to the hospital where he later died.  Two people who were in the car told police the suspect was an unidentified black woman who fled the scene in a dark colored car.  JSO is asking anyone who may have information about the stabbing to contact them at (904) 630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS. 
  • The active search for Brian McCluney and Justin Walker by the Coast Guard and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue has come to an end after the men went missing a week ago off the Space Coast during a boating trip. Randy Wyse, the President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters says it has been a hard week. We were hoping for a better outcome. Wyse says the community and volunteers have been phenomenal with the search and fundraiser. More than $150,000 has been raised and Wyse says the money is growing every hour but now the expenses are starting to come in. We promised we would cover fuel for boats and planes. Volunteers are being asked to bring their reimbursement receipts to the Command Post. Once the money gets situated, the money left over will go to the family members of McCluney and Walker. Wyse tells WOKV they will not be involved or funding any private searches, but the families can do whatever they wish with the money. Click here, if you wish to donate. 
  • A 10-year-old boy who was reported missing after leaving school in Argyle Forest is now back with his grandmother following an AMBER Alert and hours-long search. Two people have since been arrested for interfering with custody of a child and giving false information to law enforcement.  The Clay County Sheriff’s Office says the boy was picked up by someone while walking home from school in Argyle Forest, and taken to Jacksonville. According to an arrest report, 23-year-old Ondreja Ciprian had tried to entice the boy to come live with her over the past couple of weeks, without the grandmother’s knowledge or consent.  DCF had previously removed the boy from his mother and father’s care, and in February of 2018 awarded custody to his grandmother.  During the search for the boy on Thursday, Clay detectives went to a home off Rampart Road on Jacksonville’s westside, where they made contact with Vachastity Christian.  Detectives found a shirt draped over a fence that was positiively identified by the grandmother as the same shirt the missing boy had been wearing at school.  The boy was found safe in a back bedroom of the home and was later released to his grandmother.  Ciprian and Christian, whose relationship is not clear from the arrest report, were charged with interference with child custody and providing false information to law enforcement during a missing child investigation.  The Clay Sheriff’s Office says it is thankful to the community, who shared the message thousands of times on social media, brought in tips, and offered to help in any way they could. 
  • The week is going to end mostly dry and hot. Afternoon temperatures will reach the low 90’s but ‘feels-like’ temps 100-105.  Action News Jax Meteorologist Garrett Bedenbaugh says the Atlantic sea breeze moves inland this afternoon, which may pop an isolated shower but most neighborhoods along I-95 are high and dry today. The best chance for a shower today will be west of Hwy 301. Afternoon storms are expected on Saturday, but most of the activity will be inland. Our threat for rain and storms increases Sunday through the first half of next week. In the tropics, Invest 98-L is between South Florida and Andros Island of the Bahamas. Slow development is possible with this system as it parallels the Atlantic coast through the weekend. This will elevate seas a bit off our coast during the weekend, then it moves away from the local area to start next week. It will also impact where and when the rain falls during the weekend.  

The Latest News Videos