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

City leaders are asking Tulsans to help support the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma during the sixth-annual Stock the Station food drive.

People can drop off nonperishable food at any Tulsa city-county library, fire station, police station or city hall through Dec. 31. The food drive, which benefits the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, began under former Mayor Dewey Bartlett and is continuing under Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

One of downtown Tulsa’s iconic art deco buildings is coming back as a 98-room hotel, likely with $1.7 million worth of help.

The city council has taken up a proposed six-year property tax abatement for a $24 million renovation of the Tulsa Club Building at 115 E Fifth St. The abatement freezes the property’s taxable value where it is now.

City Economic Development Coordinator Jim Coles said the abatement is a useful tool.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City are expected to be the state's engines in a slowly growing economy. 

While the national rate is just over 1 percent, OSU economist Dan Rickman predicts 0.4 percent growth for Oklahoma. Rickman said Tulsa will reverse its recent negative rate and outpace the state, and Oklahoma City should lead the way with about 1 percent growth. 

"What that implies is that, for the rest of the state, there's contraction. And, of course, a lot of this is occurring in energy-producing parts of the state," Rickman said. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

New Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum drew inspiration for his administration's goals from the city's youngest mayor in history: 31-year-old James Maxwell.

In Bynum's inaugural address, he spoke about what Maxwell achieved through hard work and what Tulsans today can do through the same means.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

G.T. Bynum was sworn in Monday as Tulsa's 40th mayor.

He's the third-youngest person to take the office. Bynum said that's not a hurdle to doing great things, as Tulsa's youngest mayor, James Maxwell, had a hand in creating the library system, tripling the city's geographic area and desegregating city government.

Bynum said a community effort now can accomplish just as much.

"Working together, first and foremost as Tulsans, we will accomplish great things," Bynum said. "So, let's come together. Let's work hard. It's time to build the city of our dreams."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma lawmakers at a lunchtime forum in Jenks said teacher pay raises will be the top priority in the 2017 session when it comes to education.

State Rep. Michael Rogers said legislators need to not get ahead of themselves in proposing solutions, though.

KWGS News

A city-county partnership formed to help north Tulsans clean up after a March tornado is still going through cases.

The tornado, which touched down March 30 near Mohawk Park, damaged 390 structures.

"We had 129 requests for assistance, and we have closed all but 22 of those cases," said Linda Johnston, who leads the Tulsa Area Long Term Recovery Committee.

Cases where all needs were met ranged from replacing spoiled food to fixing severe damage. Some cases were closed because the properties were ineligible or the owner couldn’t be found.

Broken Arrow starts a conservation initiative intended to boost the monarch butterfly population.

High school students have built a garden where the migrating butterflies will be able to stop and feed. It's the first project completed under the Broken Arrow Monarch Movement.

Donna Gradel’s AP environmental science class worked with the city to build the butterfly-shaped garden.

Tulsa Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum is wrapping up preparations before taking office next week.

The city charter requires the mayor to submit a list of officers who can fill in for him. Bynum said one example is if he’s outside the city and something needs to be signed.

"Also, if the mayor happens to get hit by a bus, you would go down this list as well," Bynum said. "Though, thankfully, we haven't had that, hopefully won't in the next four years."

"We don't have enough buses," Councilor Blake Ewing said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A study says the City of Tulsa could bring in an additional $60 million a year if state lawmakers approve taxing certain services, such as landscaping and dry cleaning.

OSU professor Ali Nejadmalayeri said service industries in the Tulsa area generate about $3 billion in revenue a year.

"Two percent is what the city gets from the sales tax mix, so we assume that's what they would get, everything would be exactly the same, so if you go with that, then we get around that $60 million," Nejadmalayeri said.

In local news:

  • Iron Gate's director resigns as the soup kitchen begins a legal fight over its proposed new facility.
  • Cherokee Nation sues the federal government over alleged mismanagement of a trust.
  • A judge says there's enough evidence for Betty Shelby to stand trial for first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher.
File photo

Broken Arrow Police are working to improve pedestrian safety around schools.

Sgt. Keith Cook said there hasn’t been an uptick in the overall number of accidents involving pedestrians.

"But what we're seeing is an increase in our school-age students going to and from school that are being involved in some of these collisions, so that's what we're trying to focus on," Cook said.

One piece of the department’s strategy is education.

Cherokee Nation Welcome Center

Cherokee Nation sues the federal government, alleging mismanagement of a trust set up through treaties — some more than 200 years old.

"The United States is at its best when it's living up to its word, when it's accounting for past misdeeds and injustices and reconciling for those injustices," said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr. "So, we think this is a great opportunity for this country to live up to those ideals."

Iron Gate

Iron Gate’s executive director resigns shortly after the organization takes its fight to build a new facility to court.

Connie Cronley said that’s not her main reason for leaving. She says she’s exhausted after 14 years with Iron Gate.

"During that decade-plus that I was at Iron Gate, the recession hit, and the number of people needing food assistance just exploded," Cronley said. "The number coming to us increased something like 407 percent, and our goal was to feed everybody who came through the gates. And we've been able to do that."

Tuesday's top local stories:

  • Oklahoma is the nation's fifth-most charitable state.
  • An initiative to end veteran and chronic homelessness will continue past its original Dec. 31 end date.
  • A study that could recommend consolidating Tulsa County's parks system will go forward.
WalletHub

Good news for Giving Tuesday: Oklahoma is the fifth-most charitable state in the U.S.

WalletHub’s analysis scored states on volunteering and charitable giving. While Oklahoma is middle-of-the-road in giving, it’s sixth in volunteering.

A two-year push to end veteran and chronic homelessness in Tulsa will keep going past its original Dec. 31 end date.

Zero:2016 will be renamed Built for Zero. A Way Home for Tulsa is the coalition of organizations carrying out the initiative, and Chair Jeff Jaynes said more than 600 people found permanent housing under Zero:2016.

"We were doing a pretty good job, housing about 10 to 15 people each month, but that's nowhere near the level we needed to be to really make a serious impact," Jaynes said.

  •   Group called Let's Fix This aims to give Oklahomans the same access to their lawmakers as lobbyists get.
  • Attorney General Scott Pruitt will become the latest Oklahoma elected official to meet with Donald Trump.
  • Cyber Monday is a day of online discounts, but it's not a day to cheat.
Evan Taylor

Working on Thanksgiving is no fun, but some don’t have a choice.

A local church will try to make their day a little better when they deliver a portable Thanksgiving meal. East Side Christian Church Outreach Minister Evan Taylor said they’re going all kinds of places to hand out 32-ounce cups with layers of stuffing, potatoes, green beans, turkey and rolls.

"QTs, pharmacies — Walgreens, CVS — a lot of places people don't realize are open, like movie theaters, Dollar General, Dollar Tree. We go to the ER," Taylor said.

Apartment List

Where are Millennials moving to? Well, many are moving here.

Apartment List ranks the Tulsa area as Millennials’ ninth-most popular new home over the past 10 years. Chris Salviati said Apartment List’s research counters popular thinking about what attracts members of America’s largest generation.

The City of Tulsa gets funding to help neighborhoods around 61st and Peoria.

A $503,000 grant will pay for implementation of a strategic plan developed for the area in 2014. Gerri Inman is in charge of social services group South Tulsa Community House. She said she’s spoken to many business owners, apartment managers and residents about challenges they face.

"This is their home. They're not looking to move, they're looking to help find a solution and to make the area safer and to have even better access to social and other services," Inman said.

With a penny sales tax proposal to fund education failing two weeks ago, there’s a renewed call for Oklahoma lawmakers to fix the problem.

Broken Arrow city and economic officials and several school district leaders held a news conference Monday urging legislators to boost education funding.

Mayor Craig Thurmond said the state needs a comprehensive solution, not a bandaid.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

It may have hit 80 degrees Thursday, but Tulsa area officials were preparing for winter storms.

Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Roger Joliff said city officials participated in a tabletop exercise along with their supporting partners.

"PSO, the National Weather Service, Oklahoma Natural Gas. We had representatives from the City of Sand Springs and others to just work through a scenario, discussing the steps we would take through the warning process through a winter storm into the response phase and then into the recovery phase," Joliff said.

Various groups spent $15.9 million on TV ads to sway voters on Oklahoma’s state questions.

Spending was up significantly over the final three weeks of the election cycle. As of Oct. 17, total spending was just shy of $3 million.

Ben Wieder with the Center for Public Integrity pointed out final tallies often aren’t in until the election is over.

"That makes it very difficult to really get a sense of, you know, who's behind this and who has a stake in whatever the state question is that you're considering," Wieder said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Plans by downtown Tulsa's Iron Gate soup kitchen to move are stopped again.

In a largely ceremonial Board of Adjustment hearing, Iron Gate fell short on attempts to appeal its classification as a governmental service and to be allowed by special exception at its proposed new location. Iron Gate board chair-elect Shaun Saunders said they aren't giving up on plans to build a new facility at Seventh Street and Frankfort Avenue.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Zoo’s new Lost Kingdom exhibit is on track for an anticipated May 2017 opening.

Vice President of Development Lindsay Hutchison said work is coming right along despite a surveying error earlier in the project that may cost the zoo more than $2 million.

"We've been really lucky to have these wonderful weather days that have helped us catch up, so we're right now getting ready to put a lot of the glass viewing panels in and finish some site work," Hutchison said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Mental Health Association Oklahoma has opened dog kennels at its drop-in center.

They give homeless pet owners a place to put their dog while they get help at the peer-run Denver House finding things like housing, treatment and job training. Homeless Army veteran Melody Whitman was there with her pit mix, Copper.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

In his final state of the city address, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett praised the community and city government for their successes during his tenure.

"I am happy to report without hesitation that our city is strong, vibrant, alive, unique and financially solvent," Bartlett said.

Bartlett began his 35 minute speech by commending activists and police for peacefully and thoughtfully responding to the fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher. He then said his office hasn't ignored social issues, going over the four public safety forums his office hosted.

A return to Keener Oil and his pecan farm aren’t Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s only plans for when he leaves office next month.

"I'm also gonna try to hit a long home run. I'm trying to be considered with the new Trump administration to be the Secretary of Transportation or to be in that office," Bartlett said.

Bartlett made the announcement during a question-and-answer session at the end of his final state of the city address Tuesday, overshadowing his own speech.

File Graphic

Oklahoma's state-supplied information technology services were the subject of a Monday interim study by state senators.

The head of Oklahoma’s prison system is unhappy with ongoing consolidation of the state’s IT services. Department of Corrections Director Joe Albaugh told lawmakers the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services can’t do everything they need.

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