Matt Trotter

Reporter

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

The leader of Tulsa’s understaffed 911 center says things are improving.

Tulsa 911 Director Terry O’Malley said citizen complaints about long waits on the phone and rude dispatchers come down to inadequate staffing. At its worst in 2016, 40 percent of 911 calls were answered within 10 seconds. The national standard is 90 percent.

So, the 911 center made some changes.

"What I’m seeing is we’re keeping people, they appear to be happier, they’re doing a better job, and we’re just going to continue with what we’re doing," O'Malley said.

Groups fighting hunger are paying attention as the U.S. House and Senate reconcile their different versions of the new farm bill.

Hunger Free Oklahoma estimates up to 97,000 Oklahomans could be subject to heightened work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program proposed in the House version.

The House farm bill proposes making the work requirements apply to adults up to 59 years old — 10 years longer than current work requirements — and to parents of children 6 or older, who are currently exempt.

Tulsa County Sheriff

A Tulsa man accused of running a fake veteran’s charity is in jail.

Jeff McDougal, 43, faces 18 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses on behalf of American Oklahomans of Green Country. The Oklahoma attorney general’s office found many of McDougal’s victims thought they were giving to the legitimate Green Country Veterans Association.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Thursday he’s received word the state board of health will hold a special meeting to follow his advice on medical marijuana rules.

That will include undoing controversial, last-minute changes that attracted two lawsuits. The board amended proposed Oklahoma State Department of Health rules in order to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and to require pharmacists in dispensaries, which Hunter said they didn’t have authority to do.

Tulsa city councilors approved a ban on spray paint sales to and possession by minors in Tulsa with a couple changes.

The council voted 5–2 for the ordinance, with Councilors Ben Kimbro and Vanessa Hall-Harper opposed.

A provision adopted from Oklahoma City's similar ordinance protects store clerks from prosecution if they ask for an underage paint buyer’s ID and are shown a convincing fake.

Oklahoma’s Promise is one of six state "free college" programs that saw stronger support during the Great Recession.

A report from progressive think tank The Century Foundation found its funding went up 46 percent during the downturn, second only to Mississippi’s program. Foundation senior fellow Jen Mishory said lawmakers took measures to preserve Oklahoma’s Promise after struggling to meet its obligations in 2006.

Tulsa Public Schools and Hunger Free Oklahoma are trying out a program to help needy families get money for food.

Through the SNAP In Schools program, Hunger Free Oklahoma is teaching employees at nine schools already in contact with families where the kids receive free or reduced-price lunch to identify the ones not signed up for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

Laurie Avocado

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's attorney general says he's assigning a team of lawyers to advise him on matters surrounding the Board of Health's decision to insert last-minute restrictions on the state's new medical marijuana industry.

Attorney General Mike Hunter announced his intentions in a letter sent Monday to the Oklahoma Department of Health's Interim Commissioner Tom Bates.

"Grit and glitz" is the concept behind the newly unveiled design of the long-awaited Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture.

"The 'grit' is the concrete and steel that speaks to the work ethic and drive of our citizens. The 'glitz' is the illuminated metal panels that speak to the bright lights and wonder associated with the substantial contributions of Oklahoma’s creatives and their impact on popular culture," said architect Chris Lilly.

KWGS File photo

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford is not done with efforts to safeguard elections across the country.

Lankford appeared recently before the Senate Rules Committee to stump for his Secure Elections Act. He said he and co-sponsor Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, have met with state and federal elections officials to bolster the legislation.

Wikipedia

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has expanded a summer externship program for teachers.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said four times as many teachers are participating in the program’s second year, learning hands-on skills in science, technology, engineering and math through temporary gigs with Oklahoma companies.

"But it’s also a paid opportunity. We see that our teachers are clamoring for professional development, training, support, resources. So, this helps in multiple areas," Hofmeister said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After its hiatus ended earlier this year, the City of Tulsa Economic Development Commission has big plans.

By law, the commission oversees 38.5 percent of hotel and motel tax revenue. Commission Chairman Elliot Nelson said 34 percent passes straight through to the convention and visitors bureau, which said it needs more funding.

KWGS News

This week, Tulsans get their chance to tell the city how it’s going.

The Gallup-Tulsa CitiVoice Index is a survey of 50 indicators of overall city vitality. Check your mailbox — the survey is being mailed to 22,500 households in all parts of town.

"Today, with cellular phones not really matching up in terms of area code and that sort of thing, we want to be sure that we're getting Tulsa residents," said City of Tulsa Chief of Performance Strategy and Innovation James Wagner.

Wagner said this isn’t your usual municipal government poll.

KWGS News Photo

With all the talk about downtown Tulsa parking right now, another change could be coming.

The Downtown Coordinating Council is one group proposing a parking ticket forgiveness program for specific circumstances.

"I would really like to see the city adopt a ticket forgiveness program for anybody who leaves their car overnight who decided to take an Uber home so they didn’t drunk drive," said DCC member Elliot Nelson.

Now’s your chance to dive with one of the most dangerous species of shark in the world.

The Oklahoma Aquarium is offering an all-expenses-paid trip for one lucky, certified scuba diver to don a 45-pound chain mail suit and jump into the bull shark tank right here in Jenks.

"We have the only collection in the U.S., and we have the largest collection in the world. We have 10 on exhibit and seven in back of house, and we collect our own sharks," said aquarium CEO Kenny Alexopoulos.

On the heels of Gov. Mary Fallin signing controversial emergency rules for medical marijuana, Oklahoma's top state lawmakers say they will assemble a bipartisan working group to review them.

The working group will involve the governor's office, medical marijuana industry representatives, State Health Department officials, healthcare providers and others.

Friday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Police release body cam footage of the July 3 officer-involved shooting at a midtown QuikTrip.
  • The man accused of bombing the Air Force recruiting office in Bixby is still waiting for his day in court.
  • Tulsa City Council postpones a vote on changing driveway width regulations in the zoning code.

File photo

Tulsa Police have released the name of the city's 20th homicide victim of 2018 and declared a death last month to be the 21st.

Anthony Porchia, 47, is the man who broke into his ex-girlfriend's house near 51st and Sheridan las week and was killed in a shooting police have deemed justified. The woman, however, did not shoot Porchia. Police say when the woman and her friend were confronted with inconsistences, they revealed that they originally lied about who shot Porchia.

KWGS Photo

A proposal for wider driveways for some Tulsa homes is on hold for a couple weeks.

City councilors are postponing a vote on the zoning code change, requested by a builders association, that would allow driveways up to 30 feet wide at the curb. As things stand now the limits are 20 feet in the right of way and 30 feet on the actual lot.

"If they want more than that, then, at this point in time, it’s a special exception. So, it goes to the Board of Adjustment," Miller said.

Hall-Estill

A Tulsa attorney up for a federal judgeship appeared on Capitol Hill this week.

John O’Connor visited the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on his nomination to be a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Northern and Western Districts of Oklahoma.

O’Connor said the judicial system depends on the honesty of the bench.

"When you can rely on the fact that there is someone you can go to for a remedy and that that person will be honest in the first instance and diligent and impartial, that is a backbone of justice," O'Connor said.

Tulsa Police video

The July 3 police shooting at the 49th Street and Harvard Avenue QuikTrip was captured on both Tulsa Police officers’ body cameras.

Warning: Some viewers may find the video disturbing.

Tulsa Police are looking into a string of violent crimes that happened at an east Tulsa apartment complex, including two armed robberies apparently in the span of about 10 minutes.

Police first responded to the Sierra Pointe Apartments in the 1400 block of south 107th East Avenue around 11:30 p.m. for a stabbing. Police said the victim was in an altercation with her boyfriend's new girlfriend. When the couple came back to fight and she met them outside, the victim said the other woman stabbed her.

Groups supporting medical marijuana will go to the courts to fight rules tweaked and adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Health and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin this week.

"We have a law. We don't need any more laws done. We have a proper law that 57 percent — over 500,ooo of us — just approved. So, we don't need to change the law, but we do need to change what happened," said Chip Paul with Oklahomans for Health. "And, again, we all live in a republic, by gosh, and we got screwed, and we're not going to take it. We're not going to take it."

Thursday's top stories:

  • Gov. Mary Fallin signs medical marijuana rules amended and approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Health, and medical marijuana groups promise legal action.
  • A City of Tulsa task force on hunger kicks around a plan to encourage grocery stores with a stormwater fee incentive.

A city task force on hunger is in the early stages of coming up with a stormwater fee incentive to encourage grocery stores in underserved areas of Tulsa.

The City of Tulsa has taken a look at how much grocers generally pay, which is calculated based on how much impervious surface area they have — basically, how big the parking lot is. The typical range is $180 to $600 a month.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The 2018 Woody Guthrie Prize goes to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member John Mellencamp, and he’ll visit Tulsa next month to accept it.

"When the center opened five years ago, one of our initiatives was to establish an annual award to recognize those artists who best exemplify the spirit and life work of Woody Guthrie by speaking for the less fortunate through music, film, literature, dance or other art forms and serving as a positive force for social change in America," said Woody Guthrie Center Executive Director Deana McCloud.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma State Board of Health approves proposed medical marijuana rules with a few changes.
  • Earthquakes might be taking a toll on Oklahomans' mental health.
  • Oklahoma's U.S. senators call for a "swift up-or-down vote" on President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Tulsa's first look at the long-awaited Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture will be Monday.

Museum officials plan to unveil a rendering of the building, along with planned hours and their groundbreaking schedule.

We've talked about it as a collision of cultures and really a crossroads of creativity," said Jeff Moore, the museum's executive director. "We wanted all of that to flavor the design for the building, that local work ethic, the state motto of 'labor conquers all.' That will be reflected in the rendering we reveal."

Laurie Avocado

The Oklahoma State Board of Health approved rules for medical marijuana on Tuesday, making one big change.

On a 5–4 vote, members passed an amendment making pills, oils, topical creams, tinctures and liquids the only forms medical marijuana may be dispensed in. In other words, no smoking it; the rules specifically prohibit dispensing marijuana in flower, dry leaf or plant form.

Board member Charles Skillings suggested the change.

"I don’t think we’re protecting the public that doesn’t smoke. In fact, I think we’re imposing a hazard on them," Skillings said.

Eric Draper / White House

Oklahoma's U.S. senators are praising President Donald Trump's pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and calling for a swift vote.

In a statement, Sen. Jim Inhofe said Judge Brett Kavanaugh is respected and well-qualified.

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