Matt Trotter

News Director

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

Ways to Connect

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Thousands of educators, parents and students rallied for more public school funding at the state capitol today.

Early estimates pegged the crowd around 25,000, and it looked every bit as large. Several educators and others spoke, but the standout was Warner Public Schools senior Erika Vinson, who compared her education to being a flower tended seed to blossom by master gardeners.

Heartland Gaming Expo

The University of Tulsa hosts the second annual Heartland Gaming Expo this weekend.

It’s a showcase for computer game development in the state, and there’s a 24-hour competition for teams to build a game based on a surprise theme. Expo chair and computer sciences assistant professor Roger Mailler said those skills have scientific uses, too.

Vision Zero Initiative

  Tulsa’s Transportation Advisory Board recommends the city adopt an approach to traffic safety modeled after Vision Zero.

The traffic safety concept began in Sweden in 1997. Its goal is achieving zero fatalities through a combination of infrastructure improvements, vehicle technology, education and traffic monitoring.

TAB member Stephen Lassiter acknowledged that’s a lot to do.

Uber

Tulsa joins nearly 90 markets worldwide covered by ridesharing service Uber.

Download Uber's Android or iPhone app, and a ride is a few taps away. The app connects riders with background checked, fully insured independent drivers. Uber Oklahoma General Manager Pooneer Kant said the company saw potential here.

"Tulsa's a growing city, it's a vibrant city, there's a lot of redevelopment going on, there's a lot of young professional activity going on, and so I think that people will really be surprised at how great this is as an alternative transportation option," Kant said.

KWGS News

Tulsa's river task force is trying to figure out how to pay for ongoing maintenance a system of low-water dams would need.

A tax increment financing district was one proposal, but those are better for building projects than they are for funding upkeep. Economic Development Coordinator Jim Coles said a business improvement district may work.

CAEL

Consultants working on the Tulsa Chamber’s workforce analysis project crunch the numbers to forecast growth through 2018 in different industries.

According to an analysis from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, aerospace is expected to grow 8 percent and manufacturing nearly 5 percent. Denise Reid with the chamber said the next step is finding workers for these jobs.

File photo

Arguments in Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate were heard in the U.S. Supreme Court today.

Attorneys in the high-profile case got 45 minutes each to argue their cases, more than the highest court usually allows for. University of Tulsa law professor Tamara Piety says oral arguments usually don’t do much to sway justices, but they can give the public some insight.

"Not completely 100 percent reliable, but some glimpse into what the court’s thinking by what kind of questions some of the justices ask," Piety said.

After a fatal house fire last Thursday, Tulsa firefighters go door-to-door to protect neighborhood residents.

"The 'After the Fire' program, we go door-to-door whenever we have a fire fatality and make sure that the neighborhood understands the importance of smoke detectors, and then we make sure that we check them for them if they’d like or install one if they don’t have one," said Assistant Fire Marshal Debra Bailey.

This time it’s in the area of 83rd and Harvard, where one person died last week. Bailey says they’ll help anybody in the neighborhood.

Route 66 Main Street

Organizers of the Westside Farmers Market want to bring food trucks to the Thursday event.

Dianne Bileck is the executive director of Route 66 Main Street, a group working to revitalize Tulsa’s Southwest Boulevard corridor. She said the area has potential.

KWGS News File Photo

A new poll shows falling voter support for Oklahoma personal income tax cuts.

Approval of income tax cuts fell from 52 to 46 percent. When surveyed voters were asked if they approve of cuts an analysis says would largely benefit the top 1 percent of Oklahoma households, less than one-third did.

Oklahoma Forestry Services

Oklahoma Forestry Services will be in downtown Tulsa tomorrow selling seedlings. It’s one stop in a month-long, statewide truck sale for conservation purposes like erosion control.

Nursery manager Scott Huff says the minimum order is 100 seedlings.

"We have several varieties of pine trees. We have several varieties of oak trees. We have shrubs. We have lacebark elm. There's several different varieties that we have," Huff said. "You know, Oklahoma's a great state, and it's pretty big, so we try to provide a little bit of everything that will grow throughout the state."

File photo

Oklahoma has the fifth-highest average combined state and local sales tax in the U.S.

A study from the non-profit Tax Foundation finds the rate is 8.72 percent, just 0.73 percent behind No. 1 Tennessee. Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard said high-sales tax states need to broaden the base and lower the rate.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Sen. Jim Inhofe gave a legislative update today at the Port of Catoosa that veered into foreign policy.

A question-and-answer session during Inhofe’s remarks to port stakeholders moved from local issues to international ones within about 15 minutes. Several people wanted to know about the situation in Ukraine. Inhofe said any gains made during the Cold War are being lost now.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Plaintiffs in Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage lawsuit strike back at a conservative group’s claim that gay unions will ruin traditional families.

Attorneys are filing a brief in response to a conservative group’s brief that claims same-sex unions will hurt traditional ones and children.

Sue Barton, one of the four plaintiffs, said at a news conference today those claims are nonsense.

File Photo

A study ranks Broken Arrow highly for income equality, but it uses a different measure than a similar analysis.

Financial data company NerdWallet came up with an income ratio of 8.8 for Broken Arrow, "which essentially means that, that gap between the lowest-earning 20 percent and the highest-earning 20 percent in Broken Arrow is a lot smaller than in most other places in the country," explained company analyst Sreekar Jasthi.

KWGS News/Tgov

Tulsa's river task force heard today from riverfront businesses about the impact low-water dams would have on them. 

Sharon King Davis developed Kings Landing, a retail center on Riverside Drive south of 91st Street. She urged the task force to adopt INCOG's corridor plan, which would give guidelines for future development. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors gave a positive overview of the area’s commercial real estate today at its 2014 market update.

GBR Properties Vice President of Retail Bob Parker says his portfolio reflects the retail sector leaving the recession behind.  

"We're 90–92 percent occupied. All of the spaces that are available in my centers are the troubled spaces: Corner spaces with no frontage or something around the backs, just weird stuff," Parker said. "So I'm kind of stuck with, perhaps, mistakes made in the development phase of it."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa hosted its seventh annual Building Resources in Developing and Growing Enterprises (BRIDGE) event today to help small businesses.

Jackson Landrum, the interim director of the city's human rights department, says the goal of the event is to "work with disadvantaged businesses in developing and actually taking off and becoming self-sufficient.

"Any way that the City of Tulsa can help them in providing that service, that's what we're here to do."

Engineering Services / City of Tulsa

Tulsa city officials have started a discussion on changing Arkansas River flood regulations.

Tulsa’s current standard is construction must be 1 foot above the level of a flood with a 1 percent chance of happening any given year. The city could instead base the standard on the 1986 flood, which was 50 percent larger.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Police started a municipal warrant sweep today that will go on all week.

A task force of up to 15 officers will find citizens with outstanding warrants and arrest them at home or work if necessary. Deputy Chief Dennis Larsen said he doesn’t want to put someone in jail over a traffic ticket, but something needs to be done.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa will host next year’s U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.

The weeklong, 96-team tournament will be held at Mohawk Soccer Complex. 

The Tulsa Sports Commission has worked more than two years to land the event, and Oklahoma Soccer Association President Tom Wedding said local residents played an important part.

"Thank you to the citizens of Tulsa for passing the Vision 2025," Wedding said during the announcement. "Those funds have allowed us to recruit tournaments to this magnitude at a local impact of more than $4 million to the city of Tulsa."

Tulsa Police-Facebook

A looming budget shortage leads the city of Tulsa to cut its next police academy nearly in half.

Instead of 23, 13 cadets will start the academy May 1. City Manager Jim Twombly said the decision came so close because city officials were trying to find other places they could save money.

"It's something that we really were reluctant to even consider, but, you know, when you're scratching for that last million dollars, you've got to scratch deep," Twombly said.

The city anticipates $600,000 in savings from the move. 

KWGS News File Photo

After a record-setting 2012 and a near-record 2013, 2014 is also off to a good start at the Port of Catoosa.

A $6.4 million federal grant will cover about half the cost of rehabilitating the port's main dock. City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority Chairman David Page said in his state of the port address the project will nearly double capacity.

"The work we're going to do on renovating our dock will greatly increase our — just the capacity and loads we can manage at the port, but it will also give us a bigger variety of freight that we can handle," Page said.

KWGS News File Photo

Workers clearing ice and snow from Tulsa streets racked up $362,456 in overtime. 

The streets and storm water department went over its overtime budget for winter storm response by more than $200,000. Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell said a more severe winter caught the city a little off guard.

"You really can't tell, because the last two years we didn't utilize our overtime budget for snow and ice," McCorkell said. "I just think you need to have maybe some type of a rainy-day fund that you can dip into in case you go through it. Then you know that's there."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa-based Domestic Violence Intervention Services announces it is building new facilities.

Lee Eslicker, co-chair of DVIS' ReBUILDING Lives capital campaign, says the current shelter is 28 years old and no longer adequate.

"The time has come to build a new shelter and transitional housing that will allow DVIS to serve more clients and house them in a place that is safe and secure and allow them to rebuild their lives," Eslicker said.

File photo

Hearings on Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban lawsuit are set for mid-April in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but several groups are weighing in now.

More than a dozen friend of the court briefs were filed Tuesday before a midnight  deadline, most of them supporting same-sex marriage. Filers included Republicans who were former opponents and a coalition of businesses including Google and Starbucks. 

File photo

INCOG holds the first public meeting on its regional master plan for bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly development today at 5:30 p.m. at the TCC Center for Creativity, 910 S Boston Ave.

About 80 percent of Tulsans live within 2.5 miles of a paved trail, and James Wagner, INCOG's transportation projects coordinator, said they’re looking at the region’s 114 total miles much like a highway for the GO Plan. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In many places, the invitation given near the start of Booker T. Washington High School's Black History Month assembly would still trigger a strong response, a "Why are they different from us?" mentality.

"Could you please stand for the black national anthem?"

Members of Tulsa’s Young Professionals head to the state capitol Tuesday for a crash course in state politics.

The trip is a mix of learning the political process and lobbying on issues important to the organization. TYPros Executive Director Shagah Zakerion says education funding and passenger rail are on the agenda, and support for the arts is a major issue.

KWGS News File Photo

City crews started plowing and salting streets late Sunday night, but driving conditions are still hazardous.

Kurt Spitzner is an instructor at Bridgestone Winter Driving School. He says if you absolutely can’t avoid driving somewhere, slow down and don’t panic if you lose traction. 

"It's very common when you're on a low-traction surface, that if one control didn't work — say, steering — that you automatically just add in another control, like braking, which makes the likelihood of either of those two controls working well diminish significantly," Spitzner said.

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