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 County Sheriff

Tulsa police have arrested a man in connection with a string of downtown burglaries.

Pedro Canteras, 24, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on three counts of third-degree burglary Thursday afternoon. Online jail records indicate Canteras is homeless.

The burglaries happened over several hours in and around the Brady Arts District, starting late Wednesday night and ending early Thursday morning.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The crew that will sail the combat ship USS Tulsa has been in the city this week learning about their vessel’s namesake.

The city council and Mayor G.T. Bynum gave the crew keys — yes, two keys — to the city.

"We're hopeful that the crew knows any time, any day, wherever they happen to be in the world, that they have a whole city of 400,000 people here who are thinking about them and rooting for them," Bynum said.

Navy Lt. Junior Grade Matt Prentice said getting keys to the city and visiting Tulsa has been an honor.

Wikimedia

Despite complaints it doesn’t fall under the purview of special session, a state House committee passed a bill Thursday requiring intensive checks of Oklahoma’s Medicaid rolls every three months.

House Bill 1093 tells the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to review a wide range of records — including income, employment, residency status, enrollment in other public assistance, financial resources, incarceration status, lottery winnings and death records — for each enrollee and notify them if there’s a discrepancy.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall adjourns special session after three days.
  • The Oklahoma State Department of Health turns to furloughs and buyouts to deal with a $10 million budget shortfall.
  • A tip leads Tulsa police to the city's 66th homicide victim of 2016.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it will furlough some employees and offer buyouts to others in order to cover an estimated $10 million budget shortfall.

Starting Oct. 30, employees will have to take an unpaid day off every two weeks unless they make $35,000 a year or less. The health department is also preparing voluntary buyout offers it will present to employees in the coming weeks.

Coming off consecutive years of roughly $1 billion state budget shortfalls, state lawmakers cut the health department's budget 2.8 percent this year.

File photo

A tip received Tuesday led Tulsa police to the city's 66th homicide victim of the year early Thursday.

The dismembered body of 18-year-old Anthony Pietrzak was found at 2 a.m. in the 2000 block of north Yale Avenue with the help of Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies.

Dearld Peal, 46, and Tracey Price, 40, are charged with murdering and kidnapping Pietrzak.

A Crime Stoppers report received by the Tulsa Police Department on Tuesday said Pietrzak was in a relationship with a woman and had been beaten to death at a home in the 2800 block of east 42nd Place North.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

With Linde Oktoberfest a few weeks away, River Parks Authority received Wednesday its annual donation from the event’s profits.

River Parks is getting $250,000 after what Tulsa Oktoberfest Board Chair John Hickey called a “banner year” in 2016. Hickey said River Parks has been a partner and major part of Oktoberfest’s success over many years.

"They've done a tremendous amount for the festival in terms of infrastructure, electricity, plumbing, storage — a variety of things," Hickey said.

Those funds will go to various River Parks needs.

Tulsa State Fair

The Tulsa State Fair starts Thursday, and Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado shared some tips to stay safe.

Sometimes kids get lost in the big crowds. Last year, deputies working the fair reunited 145 lost kids with their families.

"And although that's successful and that's a stat that we certainly are proud of, what I would like to do next year is be able to say, 'You know what? We didn't have a single incident of a lost child,'" Regalado said.

To relieve prison overcrowding, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections will let certain nonviolent inmates out on a new supervised release program.

The Community Supervision Program will be strictly monitored — at least two probation officer visits a month and six months of GPS monitoring to start. Only nonviolent, minimum security inmates will be eligible.

"There are no violent offenders, no sex offenders, no child abusers, no domestic infractions — none of those people are going to qualify for this program," said DOC Director Joe Allbaugh.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

With the key piece of Oklahoma Republican lawmakers’ plan to fix the budget apparently dead on arrival, House Speaker Charles McCall adjourned special session Wednesday.

Democrats and tax-averse Republicans weren’t in support of a new cigarette tax to fill a $215-million dollar budget hole. House Majority Leader Jon Echols says negotiations will continue. Adjournment just means the legislature won’t spend $30,000 dollars a day in official special session.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • State lawmakers send a new cigarette tax proposal to the full House, but it probably doesn't have the votes needed to pass.
  • State workers want lawmakers to give them a raise during special session.
  • Oklahoma stands to lose $49 million for poor children's health care if Congress doesn't act by Saturday.

What do football, soccer and lacrosse players have in common? They’re the athletes most likely to suffer from concussions.

Concussion specialist Dr. Eric Sherburn will speak at a seminar about how concussions happen and how to recover from them. Sherburn said concussions are serious injuries, and student athletes must take themselves out of a game if they think they’ve suffered one but coaches or referees don’t recognize it.

okhca.org

Though the Senate now will not vote by Saturday’s deadline for Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority, it’s also the last day for another significant action.

Additional funding approved under President Barack Obama for the Children’s Health Insurance Program must be reauthorized by then.

"Should the enhanced CHIP funding not be reauthorized, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority stands to lose about $49 million in federal funds in state fiscal year 2018," said Cate Jeffries with OHCA.

Looking to fill a $215 million budget hole, Oklahoma House and Senate committees passed Tuesday a second run at a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase, but it probably doesn’t have the votes to pass both chambers.

Three distinct factions have emerged in the legislature: Those supporting the cigarette tax on its own, those supporting it as one piece of a package of revenue measures and those against the legislature raising taxes at all.

Senate Appropriations and Budget Chair Kim David is among those urging lawmakers to pass the cigarette tax now.

Tuesday's top stories:

  • State lawmakers officially enter special session, with two new House members taking their seats.
  • Legislators entered the capitol without a budget deal, and the Oklahoma Policy Institute says they're short on revenue measures.
  • Oklahoma ranks as one of the least friendly states for teachers.

Cherokee Nation

Eight U.S. military veterans from the Cherokee Nation are in Washington, D.C., this week on a tour of honor and history.

The fourth annual Cherokee Warrior Flight is taking veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam to see their respective memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Capitol. There are more than 4,000 veterans in the Cherokee Nation.

"Native Americans have always served at a higher percentage, higher rate, than other populations, and Cherokees have always honored and revered our warriors, since before contact," said Chief Bill John Baker.

Sen. Thom Tillis

Legislation by Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch proposes a 15 year path to citizenship for thousands covered by the policy known as DACA.

President Trump said he is ending in six months the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. President Barack Obama's policy prevents undocumented immigrants brought into the U.S. as children from being deported simply for being in the country.

Lankford said such undocumented immigrants should not be punished for it.

KWGS News File Photo

State lawmakers began their special session Monday to make up for the loss of $215 million after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a cigarette fee passed too late and with not enough votes during regular session.

Official proceedings on opening day took about 15 minutes in both the House and Senate. Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz announced his chamber’s members of the important Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget.

Monday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma lawmakers return to the capitol today for special session.
  • If lawmakers cannot replace revenue lost when the cigarette tax was struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, state health agencies will be in dire straits.
  • Department of Corrections director says Oklahoma prisons are "embarrassing, despicable, criminal."

File photo

If Tulsa wants to achieve Mayor G.T. Bynum’s goal of boosting per capita income, computers dictate the city should work to increase high school graduation rates.

Community nonprofit Tulsa Data Science let their computers analyze Census data with minimal human input to see which factors have the biggest impact on an area’s per capita income. While their analysis found each doctorate degree holder in a Census tract increases its per capita income by $468, there’s another correlation where the demographic is easier to improve.

Oklahoma Watch

A nonprofit that analyzes state finances has given Oklahoma a D grade.

"Oklahoma has accumulated over $5 billion in unfunded debt, debt beyond the assets available to pay the bills, which, in our framework, really represents costs for services that were delivered to citizens in the past but they're effectively going to have to be paid by future taxpayers," said Truth in Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman.

A new program will give Union students the chance to earn an associate degree while they’re in high school.

Early College High School will start next school year with 50 to 60 sophomores, most of them first-generation college students. Union Superintendent Kirt Hartzler said it’s an expansion of concurrent enrollment the district already offers.

"This is kind of just, I think, the next generation of what we need to be offering our students to make sure that the high school experience is more relevant and certainly adds some value," Hartzler said.

From now on, the City of Tulsa will celebrate the second Monday of October as Native American Day.

City councilors unanimously approved a resolution to do so. Some might remember it as Columbus Day.

"It's more of re-educating the truth that there were Native Americans already in place before Columbus and that Columbus did not actually discover America," said Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission Chair Sammy Haynes.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An opioid crisis that knows no bounds is the focus of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s visit to Indian country.

Price's visit spans Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and he met with Pawnee and Cherokee nation leaders during that time. Chief Bill John Baker said enough prescription painkillers are shipped into the Cherokee Nation for every man, woman and child to have 153 doses. Baker also said 40 percent of foster care cases involve families fighting opioid addiction.

Trailers of the East Coast

Oklahoma financial industry lobbyists want state lawmakers to require registration for high-end livestock trailers.

Oklahoma Credit Union Association President Nate Webb told lawmakers at an interim study Tuesday some owners of high-end trailers are using them as collateral for multiple loans, leaving lenders to fight it out if the borrower defaults. Others are titling the trailers out of state if they fall behind on payments.

Webb said the solution is to require registration for high-end livestock trailers.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter awarded $404,980 to four Tulsa-area law enforcement agencies Tuesday.

The money comes from the Safe Oklahoma Grant Program, which is intended to help agencies combat violent crime. The Tulsa Police Department got $296,500. Deputy Chief Dennis Larsen said last year, TPD seized 335 illegal guns, largely thanks to the same grant program.

"That's 173 percent more than we took off the streets in 2012, just five years ago," Larsen said. "This year, 2017, the first of September, we're at 300 firearms seized."

Flaherty and Collins

More than a year after a mixed-use, grocery store–anchored development was proposed for the parking lot across from the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, there’s a deal.

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center Trust voted overwhelmingly Monday to approve a $5.5 million dollar contract selling the PAC’s Third Street and Cincinnati Avenue lot to Indiana developer Flaherty and Collins. Negotiations started in November, led by trust member David Holden.

Oklahoma has sent its eight-year public education plan to the U.S. Department of Education.

The 218 page plan, called Oklahoma Edge, shows how federal dollars will be spent under the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA gives states more spending leeway than its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, did.

The plan takes a more student-by-student approach to public education, including a goal of developing an individualized career academic plan for every student by 2025.

Auto Loan Daily

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is warning the state’s tag agencies and residents to be wary of flood-damaged cars potentially being sold in the state.

"Flooded cars are a ticking time bomb," Hunter said in a news release. "A car that has been cleaned up may run fine and even look fine, but in reality it is a matter of time before something goes wrong. When the electrical, mechanical and safety systems are exposed to water, it compromises the essential functions of the vehicle, putting families and those who share the road at risk."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Cherokee Nation steps up again to help the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

Tribal Council member Buel Anglen's district includes parts of Tulsa County, and he presented the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Foundation with $8,000 Friday.

"I'm here today to donate this money for body cams, which, we all know, that protects us, it protects the officers, it protects citizens — everybody," Anglen said.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said budget constraints have held back the goal of putting a body camera on every patrol deputy.

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