The Harris County Administrator will conduct an independent review of security and safety plans of future events at NRG Park after Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert left 10 dead and 25 hospitalized.
Harris County Commissioner’s Court unanimously passed a motion on Monday to conduct the review, which will have County Administrator David Berry meet with the Harris County Sports Convention Corporation and the Harris County Sports Authority to “conduct an independent review of the security, fire, life and safety plans of all scheduled outdoor concerts on NRG Park property,” according to Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia.
“The tragedy that occurred on that Friday evening, obviously, is heartbreaking,” he said. “We will continue to work very closely with local authorities on their respective criminal investigations.”
The review will be conducted in coordination with the Houston Mayor’s Office and other necessary departments, and also support the Houston Police Department’s criminal investigation of the Astroworld festival, Garcia added.
Ten attendees of the Astroworld Festival have died after the crowd of 50,000 surged toward the stage during Travis Scott’s performance. Experts who have reviewed the event’s 56-page safety plan failed to address crowd surge and other common crowd issues at concerts.
During Monday’s meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo proposed that the county auditor — who reports to a board of judges and not Commissioner’s Court — select an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation.
Hidalgo said the proposed investigation wouldn’t interfere with HPD’s investigation or with several ongoing lawsuits against concert organizers. Rather, she said the investigation would look at the broader picture of events to help determine how organizations involved can improve.
In response, Commissioner Garcia, a former sheriff, said an independent investigation could open the county to potential liability. Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle requested a closed executive session to discuss the legal aspects of the proposed investigation with the County Attorney Christian Menefee.
After the executive session, the commissioners voted to pass the motion, which scales back Hidalgo’s initial proposal — a move that Hidalgo supported.
“I continue to reiterate my ask that the outcome be objective, that it be actionable, productive,” Hidalgo said. “I think we owe that to the victims.”
Galveston County officials approve controversial redistricting plan
Galveston County commissioners on Friday voted to approve a controversial new precinct plan, despite strong pushback from residents who say the new map would dilute minority representation in the region.
Officials considered two maps during Friday’s meeting — one that would nullify the minority voting advantage by adding to it the largely Anglo Bolivar Peninsula, and the other, which was approved, that would dismantle the precinct entirely by shifting it inland.
In a packed room, dozens of Galveston County residents — many people of color — testified against the plan.
“I’m neither Democrat nor Republican. What I do know, as a woman born in the south and raised in the south, is that this map — both of them — are racist, and you know it,” said Galveston County resident Hannah Melcer.
The move will likely cost the seat of Precinct 3 Commissioner Stephen Holmes, the only Black member of the court and the only Democrat. Holmes, first appointed to the court in 1999, is up for reelection in 2024.
Before Friday’s vote, Holmes addressed residents and members of the court, calling the proposed maps “discriminatory.”
“We are not going to go quietly (into) the night,” Holmes said. “We are going to rage, rage, rage until justice is done.”
The final vote was 3 to 1 — Galveston County Judge Mark Henry and Republican commissioners Joe Giusti and Darrell Apffel voted in favor, while Holmes voted against. Commissioner Ken Clark was absent.
Judge Henry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.