Houston Newsmakers Feb. 15: Harvey recovery, film festivals, slavery history

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is a guest this week on Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall and said any confusion about who’s paying for the rehabilitation of the Astrodome should be put to rest.

He said the money is coming out of the capital budget and that voters can rest easy.

Houston Newsmakers: Interview with Judge Ed Emmett

“We’re not asking for a bond. We’re not asking to borrow money. We’re not raising taxes to do it. There's no requirement to go to the voters. In fact, such a thing has never gone to the voters in the state of Texas,” he said.

He also stressed that no money that was intended to go toward Harvey recovery is being used in the Astrodome project.

On this week’s Houston Newsmakers Extra, Emmett stressed that our region needs $200 million just to get back to square one.

“We’re not even back to where we were before Harvey, because we had about close to $200 million worth of damage to infrastructure that was already in place,” he said. “We’ve got to get that back to normal and then start the process of going forward.” 


Fay Yarbrough, Ph.D., is an associate history professor at Rice University and was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant to continue her focus on the Choctaw Indians and Native American culture.

On Houston Newsmakers, she talks about the discovery that the Choctaw tribe supported the South during the Civil war and owned African American Slaves.

VIDEO: Houston Newsmakers: Interview with Fay Yarbrough

“Natives had practiced a form of slavery before Europeans ever arrived,” she said. “They were enslaving other native people so it looked different from the practice of enslaving people of African descent primarily, in that it’s not an inherited status and it’s not a permanent status.”

Look forward to a very interesting discussion about the intersection of Native and African-American cultures.


The 2018 ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest of its kind in the United States and focuses on ability instead of disability.  

“It’s a festival that talks about inclusion but we do it in a way… (that is) more user-friendly,” said film festival co-chair Susan Farb Morris. “We celebrate people’s abilities as opposed to their disabilities.”  

One of the people featured at the festival is Aaron Mixell, a veteran who was injured in Afghanistan, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and uses a Labrador retriever named Chief to get through the day.


“One of my injuries is: I can’t put my head below my heart so anything that hits the ground (Chief) automatically picks up without a cue,” he said. “If I lay down in bed and can’t get up, he’ll tug me out of bed and help me get out of bed and get my shoes that I can’t reach.”

Chief was trained by a prison inmate, as part of a program called Patriot Paws. A similar program is featured in “Prison Dogs” one of the documentaries in the ReelAbilities Film Festival. The festival is free!

Houston Newsmakers: Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. during the Olympics 

  • Judge Ed Emmett,  713-274-7000,  www.judgeemmett.org Twitter:@EdEmmett 
  • Fay Yarbrough, Ph.D.,  Associate Professor of History, Rice University, 713-348-2780  https://history.rice.edu/faculty/fay-yarbroughTwitter: @RiceUniversity
  • Susan Farb Morris, Co-Chair 2018 Reelabilities Film Festival, (832)786-0361,  www.reelabilities.org | Twitter: @farbulous  #Reelabilities    
  • Aaron Mixell,  Patriot Paws,  972-772-3282, www.patriotpaws.org | Twitter: @Patriotpaws


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