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

Tulsa County residents will vote on two sales tax measures in April after county commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday afternoon to put them on the ballot.

One measure is for a 0.041 percent sales tax to collect money for improvements to the Juvenile Justice Courts and Detention Center. The money could be used for acquiring property, construction, remodeling and similar purposes.

Tulsa's Housing and Urban Development Community Development Committee begins the difficult task of awarding grants from its federal funds.

The HUD committee has about $1 million less to give out this year, and more than 50 organizations are asking for funds. Committee chair Gail Rose said it's a tough process.

"It is very difficult, and not only do we look at the statistics and the logistics of people served, we have to look at the individuals that we meet and our own conscience of are they actually going to be able to do what we are charging them to do?" Rose said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa residents won't need a sticker for their yard waste after the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy board unanimously voted Tuesday to suspend the requirement.

Stickers would have been required starting Feb. 1. Vice chairman Paul White said they're trying to make it easy on residents while they figure out a long-term solution for the city's green waste program.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Plenty of people want to live in downtown Tulsa, and it may be time for a new approach in creating residential space. 

The Tulsa Regional Chamber hosted a panel on downtown residential development today, and the discussion focused on the gap between demand for living space downtown and the supply. 

Just one in seven apartment units to be completed this year will be downtown, which has the city's highest occupancy rate. Tulsa's overall occupancy rate is 92 percent; downtown, it's 97.5 percent.

State lawmakers will consider a bill this session that would completely defund the Oklahoma Arts Council in four years.

The bill calls on the arts council to replace its state funding with private funding. 

"If you've got XYZ arts organization over here requesting a grant or corporate support from a big company, then you would have the arts council also asking for that support," said Jennifer James, director of Oklahomans for the Arts, an advocacy group supporting the state arts council. "It would dilute the pot of money that's already out there."

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It's not looking good for Oklahoma's budget.

State leaders expect a $170 million shortfall. This year's budget was just half a percent larger than five years ago, without adjusting for inflation. And projections estimate a deficit of up to $2 billion by 2035.

Tulsa's Rail Advisory Committee discussed two tactics today to keep the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from selling the Sooner Sub rail line.

ODOT is accepting bids until Jan. 30 for the 97.5-mile line between Oklahoma City and Sapulpa, which many have hoped would become a passenger line linking Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

The Tulsa and Oklahoma City councils have teamed up to send Gov. Mary Fallin a joint resolution opposing the sale of the railroad. Tulsa City Council will draft the resolution within the next two weeks.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine visited Broken Arrow today amid buzz over who will run for Tom Coburn's Senate seat, but the congressman did not make any announcements.

The visit was for a congressional forum hosted by the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce. Bridenstine said the visit is part of his efforts to regularly get in touch with constituents. 

Bridenstine is, however, looking at his options.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Representatives of three-day cycling festival Saint Francis Tulsa Tough have donated more than $6,000 worth of supplies and funds to the Avant Fire Department.

The volunteer department had its only fire truck stolen and burned last month. Medical equipment and supplies at the fire station were also destroyed by vandals.

Copyright-Glock Talk

Two of every three handgun permits issued last year by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation went to a man, but women are catching up.

The number of permits going to women tripled over the last two years, while the number of permits going to men slightly more than doubled. Robert Jerome, owner of Invictus Personal Defense, is seeing more and more women interested in handguns. 

KWGS News File Photo

  Cutting income taxes. The state's been here before, and quite recently.

"The [Oklahoma] Supreme Court threw the legislature a lifeline by striking down 2032," said Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt at the organization's budget summit last week. 

As passed, House Bill 2032 would have cut the state income tax to 5 percent in 2015 and 4.85 percent after that. The state Supreme Court threw it out in December because it also provided money for capitol repairs.

A budget summit in Oklahoma City hosted by the Oklahoma Policy Institute gives a bleak outlook for the state's short-term and long-term budgets. 

Anew legislative session begins in just over two weeks. Lawmakers will head back to the capitol facing a $170 million budget shortfall. Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt hopes the summit paints a clear picture of what that shortfall and the policies that lead to it mean for the state.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Council's Trash Operations Task Force has finalized its green waste program recommendations for the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy.

The biggest change from how the program currently works is recommending a separate green waste collection system that people opt into for a fee.

"You can opt in, have a user fee — a monthly fee to have your green waste picked up, or you can throw your green waste away in your gray cart," said Councilor Karen Gilbert, who chairs the task force. "I think it's a great compromise of both programs."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

As part of its legislative agenda for this year, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will ask state lawmakers for $1.06 billion in funding.

That's $76.3 million more than the legislature appropriated last year — a 7.7 percent increase. Chancellor Glen Johnson said regents know the state budget is tight and could fall short of projections, but the state's schools are trying to work with lawmakers.

KWGS News Photo

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures: It's a combination that's created around 9,000 potholes in Tulsa streets since early December.

"We've had a lot of cold weather, and we've already had two or three storms," said Street Maintenance Manager Tim McCorkell. "With that freeze-thaw cycle, you get a lot of moisture down in the cracks, and it pops the pavement up, and you have to go repatch again."

Another problem with the cold weather is when the temperature is below freezing, crews can't use hot asphalt, which makes a longer-lasting patch. 

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Downtown Tulsa residents will have to wait a little longer for a recycling center in their area.

A new Metropolitan Environmental Trust recycling center at 11th Street and Cincinnati Avenue was supposed to open next weekend, but the M.e.t. is now looking at early February.

Bad weather has halted work on a list of repairs included in the property lease that needed to be done before the recycling center opened. 

KWGS News File photo

Tulsa Fire Department has been dealing with problems with its computer-aided dispatch system, but Deputy Chief Scott Clark was hopeful they would be resolved today.

The department has experienced glitches because two pieces of the system supplied by different vendors weren't working together. 

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If all goes according to plan, Tulsans could see water in the Arkansas River — permanently — by mid-2021.

A big project on the river is closer to getting started, as improvements to Zink Dam should get permit approval from the Army Corps of Engineers in the next two weeks.

Vision 2025 Program Director Kirby Crowe said Corps approval is important for more than that one project.

Tulsa's Downtown Coordinating council has targeted homelessness as a problem to address in 2014.

The area's homeless population was identified as downtown Tulsa's most difficult security and safety concern in a meeting Wednesday afternoon because of the potential for property damage and intimidated visitors.

DCC Manager Tom Baker said the solution isn't just to move downtown's homeless somewhere else.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa City Council's Trash Operations Task Force received comments and suggestions from about 65 residents, but its recommendations — due at the end of the month — aren't much clearer.

District Five Councilor Karen Gilbert is the task force chair. She said the level of public response was good and indicated a clear preference. 

"The comments that we've received on our council website have been very positive, that a majority of the comments want some sort of green waste pickup," Gilbert said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa's Young Professionals' Community Partner program begins its sixth year with the donation of 2013 funds and the announcement of 2014's beneficiary.

TYPros' 2013 community partner was the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. The Tulsa Chamber group donated $12,394.86 to the council. Arts and Humanities Council Executive Director Ken Busby said the money will help their youth after-school program give more disadvantaged kids experiences with the arts.

There are more than 11,000 children in state custody. There are fewer than 4,000 foster homes in Oklahoma. 

"So, as you can see, we have a need every single day for children to be placed in a home," said Sheree Powell with the Department of Human Services.

The foster kids to foster homes ratio is improving, but not enough.

On Jan. 1, a new state law went into effect. Foster parents now qualify for a tax deduction of $2,500 for single returns or $5,000 for joint returns.

File photo

A study from Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, an association for the state's corrections and pardon and parole employees, says the state's corrections officers are worse off than most of the nation's.

Oklahoma corrections officers' average starting pay of $11.83 an hour is fourth-lowest in the U.S., trailing Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. It's also nearly $4 less than the national average.

Officers also face the highest offender-to-officer ratio, with nearly 12 inmates for every officer. The national average is 5.5.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Seven local law enforcement agencies worked with nonprofit organization PC Power to give away computers for Christmas this year.

The program was started in 2003 by late Tulsa Police Officer Glenn DeWeese. He gave away 25 computers that year.

This year, Karen Ford — a former TPD captain and current executive director of PC Power — is giving 60 computers to needy kids. She says they may not be as fun as toys, but they have a bigger impact.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After helping a recipient and a volunteer sort out which items should be in the recipient's shopping cart, Salvation Army Major April Taylor took a few minutes to stand back and admire what was going on.

"Both sides of it, both sides happening at the same time, it's spectacular. That's Christmas," she said. "That is Christmas."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Professional soccer returns to Tulsa in the spring of 2015. The Tulsa Drillers are majority owners of a to-be-named United Soccer Leagues PRO franchise that will play its home games at ONEOK Field.

Drillers General Manager Mike Melega said at an announcement today their ambition doesn't stop there.

KWGS News File photo

Tulsa City Council's Trash Operations Task Force has a rough draft of the green waste recommendations it will present to the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy.

Among the task force's ideas are making collection less frequent and phasing out plastic bags in favor of paper bags or residents' own containers.

Kelly Markwardt told her fellow task force members making a real commitment to public education will make the biggest difference.

File photo

The Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy will pay $2,500 in legal fees for former trustee Beverly Anderson.

Anderson and other board members at the time were named in a 2011 lawsuit against TARE by Tulsa Refuse Incorporated, which was then contracted as the city's trash hauler.

Chairman Richard Sullivan told TARE board members this week that paying the fees is the proper thing to do. 

"If we are pursuing TARE board matters to the best of our ability and something like this were to happen, I would hope the TARE board would be there for us," he said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Since 2009, 131 area women have avoided long, mandatory prison terms for nonviolent drug and alcohol offenses by completing the Women In Recovery program.

A group of 16 women composed the program's 10th class of graduates, and dozens of family members, friends, counselors and legal professionals gathered in the old city council chambers to honor their achievement.

File photo / KWGS

The Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy has awarded consulting firm Leidos up to $25,000 for short-term help with the city's green waste program.

"What we're doing is asking them to come up with a short-term solution to stop the redundancy of the double hauling, and to try to cut down on the cost of — recoup savings of the approximately $200,000 a month that we're paying right now," City Councilor David Patrick said before the TARE board voted on the matter Tuesday.

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