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

Tulsa Police Department

Tulsa Police shot and killed a naked man carrying a gun on Christmas.

The death is Tulsa's 81st homicide of 2017, one short of matching a record set just last year.

The shooting happened around 3:45 p.m. near 11th Street and Wheeling Avenue. Neighbors reported a naked man running down the street with a gun. One neighbor said he pointed a gun at them.

When officers arrived, TPD says the man ran toward them and pointed the gun at them, ignoring commands to stop. One officer fired several shots, and the man was pronounced dead at St. John hospital.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Police shoot and kill a naked man with a gun.
  • 2017 legal bills hit more than $850,000 for Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. 
  • Oklahoma schools gave almost 71,000 in-school suspensions for sixth- through 12th-graders last year.

U.S. Department of Defense

Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe supports the inclusion of $4 billion for missile defense in a federal spending bill signed Friday.

President Donald Trump requested the funding earlier this year.

"Over the last 30 years, we've witnessed our missile defense programs go through dramatic investment changes from administration to administration," Inhofe said.

OETA

Oklahoma has learned its share of nearly $3 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program included in a short-term spending bill signed by the president today.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority's allotment is $44.4 million.

"We have begun to recalculate our state fiscal year 2018 budget, and we believe we are close to being able to sufficiently fund our CHIP program through June of this year," said OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard.

Former Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman announced Friday he is returning to the legislature.

"After much consideration and consultation with my family, I have decided to honor the trust and faith shown to me by the citizens of Del City and south Oklahoma City when they elected me to serve as their representative for the sixth time in November of 2016. Today, I am announcing my intent to return to the Oklahoma House next session to complete the important work facing our great state," Inman said in a statement.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed Friday afternoon bills making supplemental appropriations to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services.  

The House signed off on the measures Friday morning.

The additional funding — $17.7 million for OHCA and $26.5 million for DHS will fund services for poor, elderly and disabled Oklahomans through April. That includes stopping Medicaid provider rate cuts and programs to keep elderly people who need minimal care stay in their homes rather than go to nursing homes.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma’s 280 alternative education programs taught more than 11,000 students last year.

More than 3,000 of them were seniors.

"Of those seniors that they served, they had a 93 percent graduation rate. So, of those students that were on track to drop out, they were able to enter one of these 280 programs and get back on track and graduated," State Director of Alternative Education Jennifer Wilkinson told the State Board of Education this week.

Wilkinson said Oklahoma’s philosophy is a big part of that success.

pixabay.com

Tax breaks on oil and gas production will cost Oklahoma nearly $400 million this year and next.

Gross production tax collections this year are projected to be $638 million. That's $397.5 million less than what they would be if the rate were the standard 7 percent rather than at incentive rates for the first years of production. The state will also pay out $2 million in tax credits and adjustments.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma House gaveled in and out Thursday, but that's not because they didn't need to be at the capitol.

The Constitution required the House be in session for an official second reading of bills sending supplemental funding to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services. Representatives will vote on those measures Friday morning after a third official reading.

The measures will pay OHCA and DHS bills through April, meaning provider rate cuts will be stopped.

KFOR-TV

A University of Oklahoma regent who likened gay people to pedophiles during an Oklahoma City public affairs TV show says he will resign before the start of the upcoming academic year.

Vice Chair Kirk Humphreys said Thursday he does not want to be a distraction and announced plans to resign at a board meeting during which members were scheduled to discuss "any board member(s) as it may pertain to board leadership positions."

file

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association has asked for an investigation of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The request went to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater and the House Special Investigative Committee.

"There was an audit done at the tourism department, and, subsequently, the auditor was let go after he made his findings known," said OPEA's Tom Dunning. "It's that sort of thing that really kind of sends up red flags about how tourism is operating."

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is nearly law.

Sen. Jim Inhofe said the tax reform plan passed by Congress Wednesday will be a boon for Oklahomans.

"The average family of four in my state of Oklahoma will get an increase in their take-home pay of $2,000," Inhofe said on the Senate floor in the lead up to votes on the bill.

Additional funding for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services is just a House vote away from approval.

The full Senate approved measures Wednesday giving OHCA $17.7 million and DHS $26.5 million to get them through April. The funding will halt provider rate cuts by OHCA.

KWGS News file photo

Did you know a low-water dam is still in the works for Sand Springs?

Tulsa County Commissioners approved a sponsor agreement for it this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a reminder the county can pay for the project and a commitment to preserve any historically significant finds during construction.

"I like to tell everybody that this is, like, a 50 step process and this is step No. 25 of that 50 step process, so I'd say we're a little bit more than halfway there — just barely — on getting this to fruition," said District Two Chief Deputy John Fothergill.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma’s second extraordinary session of 2017 is moving right along.

House and Senate budget committees passed bills Tuesday to fund the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services through April. The agencies are in line for $17.7 and $26.5 million of an estimated $50 million coming from the early end of gross production tax incentives on some oil and gas wells. But Rep. Jason Dunnington noted there’s some lag time here.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

The former Oklahoma State Department of Health Chief Operations Officer testified Tuesday to the House investigative committee.

Deborah Nichols laid out a timeline of the agency’s finances starting around January 2016. That’s when the agency pulled the plug on a remodel of three floors of its headquarters days before the bid was signed because the money for the project wasn’t there.

"So, that was one of the first red flags," Nichols said. "You don't — you don't know that you don't have $8 million. You either have it or you don't have it."

Oklahoma Watch

Two federal agencies are now participating in a probe of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter's office to investigate issues relating to the use of federal funds at the health department.

The partnership means the management of state and federal funding is under scrutiny.

KWGS News

A man is dead after being shot in the head this afternoon in Tulsa’s 80th murder of the year.

Police were called to the area of Columbia Place and Virgin Street at 2:20 p.m. for a man lying in blood in the street.

When officers arrived, they found a white man bleeding from the face just south of Virgin on Columbia. EMSA took him to St. John’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The suspect was driving a white pickup truck, which police found. The suspect has not been described.

Lankford's office

Senator James Lankford said text messages critical of President Trump exchanged by former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team don’t wholly undermine that Russia investigation.

"Obviously, I don't think it taints the entire process, but it certainly taints that season of it and it's something you should look at with any political investigation he was on at the time," Lankford said. "Again, we want our FBI agents to be neutral and be nonpolitical, not very actively engaged politically."

Oklahoma lawmakers plan to work quickly in their second special session, which began today.

Lawmakers will take up bills to appropriate funds from a gross production tax increase on existing oil and gas wells passed in the first special session.

"That would get [Department of Human Services], department of mental health, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority through April, the idea being we get that done by Friday," said House Majority Leader Jon Echols.

One bill appropriates $17.7 million to the OHCA. The other appropriates $26.5 million to DHS.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Greater Tulsa Area African-American Affairs Commission met for the first time on Friday.

Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper led the charge for the commission, which was formalized in February, just three months after she was elected. Hall-Harper said the commission must be progressive and unapologetic in its work for black Tulsans.

One of the issues it will tackle as a policy advisory group is law enforcement.

Oklahomans buying their own health insurance on the federal marketplace have until midnight to do so.

The enrollment period this year was a month and a half shorter than it was last year. Oklahoma Policy Institute analyst Carly Putnam said that’s part of the Trump administration’s efforts to undercut the Affordable Care Act.

Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo is saying “not so fast” to the recently established City-County Parks Realignment Commission.

The nine-member commission announced last month by Mayor G.T. Bynum and Commissioner Ron Peters will look for park functions that could be merged. Smaligo said he gets the sense Bynum wants a city-county park system like the library or health department, a plan that’s been studied before.

Tulsa Jail

Tulsa County leaders learn how to reverse booming growth trends at the jail.

In 1970, the jail averaged 322 people a day. Last year, it averaged more than 1,500, and that’s straining the county budget.

Besides average daily population going up 383 percent, the incarceration rate has gone up 200 percent since 1970. County Commissioner Karen Keith said one of the most important things they can do is find more funding for the court services department.

File Photo

A report released Wednesday by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said Oklahoma’s spending on tobacco prevention isn’t up to snuff.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the state spend $42.3 million dollars on tobacco prevention programs. Tobacco Free Kids’ John Schachter said total state tobacco revenue is nearly $390 million, but spending on those programs is only $19 million.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City of Tulsa officials started talks about next year’s city budget at Wednesday's mayor-council retreat.

Mayor G.T. Bynum’s priorities will be three C’s: cops, compensation and cash reserves. Bynum said that means continuing current levels of police recruiting, making city salaries competitive and putting some money away before the next downturn.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Around 300 homeless Tulsans got a hot, holiday meal Tuesday from Mental Health Association Oklahoma, and 250 of them got new backpacks filled with things to help deal with falling temperatures.

This is the fifth winter Mental Health Association Oklahoma has handed out backpacks filled with socks, gloves, scarves, hand warmers and hats. Director of Recovery Services Beth Svetlic said they’re needed because local shelters are nearly always at capacity.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Port of Catoosa has reached a milestone, welcoming its 50,000th barge on Tuesday.

The vessel comes from Osceola, Arkansas.

"If you were to open this barge, you'd see coil steel's in there, 1,500 tons of raw, coil steel that's going to go to Steel and Pipe Supply later today, will be cut to length and sent out to manufacturing facilities not just in Tulsa, but in neighboring states as well," said Port Director David Yarbrough.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa Arts District is getting another hotel, this one across the street from ONEOK Field.

The $16 million, five-story Holiday Inn Express is being built by the Ross Group and Promise Hotels, which built the Hampton Inn across from the BOK Center. There is a Fairfield Inn on Main Street in the Tulsa Arts District.

Promise Hotels CEO Pete Patel said the 115 room Holiday Inn Express is immediately north of the train tracks at Archer and Detroit.

Google Street View

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved Monday $1.2 million in repairs for a bridge over U.S. 412 in west Tulsa.

It’s been a rough year for the bridge at 65th West Avenue. It was hit by a track hoe being hauled by a truck in June. The bridge was hit again by a crane on a truck last month, about 10 days after the commission approved work to repair damage from the first crash.

The bridge remains closed.

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