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.

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KWGS News

Saying he’s tired of ongoing jail cost negotiations with the City of Tulsa, Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo has another go at settling the matter.

Smaligo proposes multiplying the per capita cost for Broken Arrow to run its jail, $8.78, by Tulsa’s population to determine what the city should pay to use the county jail.

"$8.78 for every man, woman and child in the City of Tulsa comes to $3.5 million, which I think is absolutely reasonable. It's an apples-to-apples comparison," Smaligo said.

Jail Visiting Days Reduced

Jul 17, 2017
TCSO

In an effort to save money, the Tulsa Jail will trim the number of jail visitation days from six to two.

Starting next month, visitation will be allowed Sunday and Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Currently, visitation is 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for half the jail, and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for the other half.

"We analyzed 25 other jails and 19 other prisons ... every one of them, I believe — with the exception of one — had visitation for two days, so this is nothing new," said Sheriff Vic Regalado.

Oklahoma programs to prevent teen pregnancy will lose $3.9 million dollars in federal funding each of the next two years after the Trump administration suddenly decided to end early five-year grants supporting such programs nationwide.

Youth Services Tulsa Executive Director David Grewe said Oklahoma’s teen birth rate has gone from 50 per thousand in 2010 to 35 per thousand — still the second-highest in the U.S.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

Charges have been filed against the man who fatally shot a 15-year-old after the boy and his adult cousin allegedly stole fireworks from him on the Fourth of July.

Johnny Mize, 32, is charged with first-degree manslaughter. District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler alleges Mize shot Jake Ulrich in anger or that he did so unnecessarily during the theft.

According to an earlier account from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, shots were exchanged before Ulrich and his 27-year-old cousin, Jack, drove away from the fireworks stand near 65th West Avenue and Charles Page Boulevard.

Tulsa Police

Less than two months after she was acquitted of manslaughter and returned to work, Officer Betty Jo Shelby is resigning from the Tulsa Police Department.

Shelby issued a statement today through the Tulsa chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. She said her desk job makes her feel isolated from her fellow officers and the citizens of Tulsa.

Shelby has been at TPD in that capacity since being reinstated in late May.

Tulsa Flag

City councilors have balked at a vote to adopt the winner of a citizen-led campaign to adopt a new Tulsa flag.

After surveys, design solicitations and an expert panel, the one with blue and beige fields above and below a gold Native American shield with a red circle and beige star in its center got more than half the 8,000 votes on the three finalists.

City of Tulsa/Tulsa Transit

City and transit officials unveiled branding and design concepts Thursday for the bus rapid transit line along Peoria Avenue.

It will be known as Aero. The name and design concepts are meant to call back to Tulsa being in the vanguard of the aerospace industry and a center for Art Deco architecture. Mayor G.T. Bynum said he loves the branding.

Facebook

The man accused of bombing a Bixby Air Force Recruiting Station has been charged.

Federal prosecutors say Benjamin Roden holds a grudge against that branch of the military. Roden was arraigned Wednesday on felony charges related to Monday night’s explosion. Acting U.S. Attorney Loretta Radford said the former senior airman discovered he couldn't complete the training needed to become an Air Force electrician.

Facebook

The FBI has made an arrest in connection with a Monday night explosion at the Air Force recruiting office in Bixby.

"We can confirm that we have taken into custody a person of interest in regard to the bombing at the USAF Recruiting Center last night," the FBI Oklahoma City office said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. 

In custody is 28-year-old Benamin Roden of Tulsa. He was arrested at the Sand Dollar Apartments near 61st and South Riverside.

On his Face Book page, he had posted about being upset with the government over his lack of employment.

Trip Advisor

With a feeling that momentum is building to draw business and tourism to Tulsa's stretch of Route 66, the commission acting as the Mother Road's main booster may look for more power.

City Councilor Blake Ewing said at a Tuesday meeting it makes sense to transition the Tulsa Route 66 Commission into a Route 66 authority.

"An authority can own assets, and so if we look into the long-term objectives of Route 66 and we're thinking about developing land along the corridor and those kinds of things, I think an authority is the best framework," Ewing said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The FBI says an explosion Monday night at an Air Force recruiting station in the Tulsa suburb of Bixby is not currently being considered an act of terrorism.

That’s despite an earlier statement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that it was being treated as an act of domestic terror "out of an abundance of caution" because it happened at a military facility. The FBI is in charge of the investigation.

Robert Scoble

The state’s top transportation official said Monday lawmakers’ approval this past session of additional fees on hybrid and electric cars was the right move.

"At the time, we knew that Tesla had already presold 400,000 units of their new Model 3. That's to go with everyone else's electric vehicles that are already in the market, but then Volvo announced ... that by 2019, all their vehicles will be either hybrid or electric," Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Mike Patterson told the ODOT Commission.

Cherokee Nation Welcome Center

Full-time employees of Cherokee Nation will now get five days of additional paid leave if they become foster parents.

Chief Bill John Baker said the new policy is in response to a problem they noticed among new foster families.

"They get the kids, and then all of a sudden, they've got to start taking sick leave or vacation pay or whatever to get them to their doctor appointments or to get them into daycare or into a school," Baker said. "It just takes time to get those things done."

The days may be taken at any time during the first year after placement.

File photo

The 2016–2017 flu season is now Oklahoma’s second-deadliest on record.

A State Health Department death certificate review this week added 14 deaths that happened between February and April to the totals.

"We have 2,394 hospitalizations that have been reported for the season, and we have 110 deaths," said epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty. "And I don't anticipate that the number of deaths will increase much, if at all, unless there's just several other late reports that we find."

The 2014–2015 flu season was Oklahoma’s deadliest on record, with 115 people dying.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After tackling zoning code and subdivision regulation updates, Tulsa city planners turn their attention to landscape regulations.

"If we're talking about landscape requirements, they're going to be things like how many trees are in your parking lot or what kind of screening you provide," said Planning Director Dawn Warrick.

The city’s landscape regulations are largely for developers or for public projects.

The updated regulations will support the Tulsa Urban Forest Master Plan from Up With Trees.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A few weeks after a long-term soft drink contract derailed plans for the new USA BMX headquarters at the fairgrounds, city officials announced Wednesday a new site has been chosen.

Evans Fintube is now the preferred site. Mayor G.T. Bynum said there will be a complete overhaul of the 22-acre former steel foundry over the next couple years.

Monday's top stories:

  • Gov. Mary Fallin is concerned volatile oil prices may again affect the state budget.
  • Simple drug possession is now a misdemeanor in Oklahoma.
  • Tulsa sees its 46th homicide of 2017 and an arrest for its 45th over the weekend.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa is the first Oklahoma city to join a network dedicated to helping Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers.

The Dementia Friendly America Network provides training and information to businesses and other organizations to help identify and better serve people suffering from cognitive decline. Mayor G.T. Bynum said around 6,000 Tulsans suffer from some form of dementia, and a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia typically has at least three caregivers, usually unpaid family members..

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

The state's top information technology official says benefits of Oklahoma government’s IT consolidation are being obscured by federal cybersecurity regulations.

Chief Information Officer Bo Reese told a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday streamlining state agencies' online operations has saved Oklahoma $283 million, but too much time is being spent complying with thousands of pages of varying federal regulations.

File Photo

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford said Wednesday election officials across the country need to prepare for attempted hacks during the 2018 and 2020 elections.

"If they're able to engage in any state election system, alter any data or exfiltrate any data in 2018, I cannot imagine the pressure both on that state and on the federal government to be able to explain when we had two years of warning," Lankford said.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

Dozens of Oklahoma counties and the state health department are working to settle a billing dispute.

In all, 51 counties now receiving their third quarterly invoices from the state have been advised not to pay. The health department’s Tina Johnson said those invoices cover record systems and related IT costs county health departments use.

"When a client comes into Pontotoc County Health Department and has been seen in Comanche County Health Department, the clerk is able to pull that information up, continue that service without interruption," Johnson said.

Booking an Airbnb listing in Oklahoma will get more expensive in a couple weeks.

On July first, Airbnb will start collecting the 4.5 percent state sales tax, local sales and use taxes, and local lodging taxes on bookings in Oklahoma.

Airbnb is the latest major internet company to work with the commission on the issue of online sales tax.

"So, they will remit that to the state, and that's something that we will remit back to the local communities," said Paula Ross with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. "So, it's something that's good for the state of Oklahoma."

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

Nearly two dozen school resource officers are training in Tulsa this week.

Tulsa County Undersheriff George Brown said whether they work in public or private schools, agencies are asking a lot of school resource officers nowadays.

"They have to be effective communicators. They have to be good mentors and examples for the young children that they work with," Brown said. "They have to be part medic and part communicator and part police officer."

Tulsa Police

Tulsa Police have released their video of last Friday’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill man armed with knives.

Besides three videos from patrol car dash cams, one video is from a body camera worn by Officer Donnie Johnson. TPD said Johnson’s body cam didn’t capture the shooting because it was powered off rather than in standby mode when it was activated.

The camera did capture the on-scene supervisor’s exchange with Johnson about two minutes after Joshua Barre was shot.

"Was that you?" the supervisor said.

Michael Shick

A study says Tulsa is the 10th best U.S. city for a certain kind of self-driving cars.

The recommendation comes from a review of trip, parking and congestion data by Inrix, and the study focuses on shared vehicles — think self-driving shuttles or Ubers. Autonomous Vehicle Strategist Avery Ash said that means they’d be best deployed staying within a certain radius of downtown or similar core area.

File Photo

There’s been a lot of talk since Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum took office about how data will drive city hall, and now there’s an example.

"We wanted to look at the relationship between blight and violent crime in Tulsa. To our knowledge, the two have been individually looked at, but we did not find any data that showed we've ever looked at both the data sets together," said Chase Mohler with the city's Working In Neighborhoods Department.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa’s newest police officer certainly knows how to be brave.

Five-year-old Aaliyah Alexander was sworn in as an honorary officer Tuesday after Officer Amley "Popsey" Floyd heard last week that’s what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"We put the wheels in motion to get the recognition from the mayor's office conferring upon her the title of honorary Tulsa Police officer," said Capt. Tom Bell, who swore in Aaliyah. "To my knowledge, it's the only time we've ever done that."

File Photo

Part of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ strategy for dealing with a $33 million budget cut may be freezing assistance for in-home care.

The ADvantage Waiver Program helps low-income elderly and disabled adults pay for simple care.

"There's about 300 individuals — frail Oklahoma elderly — that go on the program every month, and that means those 300 will not get service and, likely, go to a nursing facility at three times the cost," said Steve Goforth, president of home care provider Oxford HealthCare.

President Trump’s budget would put a substantial burden on Oklahoma to make sure poor families are fed.

The president proposes cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding 25 percent, or $193 billion, over 10 years. Earlier this year, House Republicans proposed cutting SNAP 20 percent over the next decade.

"Because 93 percent of SNAP spending goes directly to food assistance, a cut of that size would require restricting SNAP eligibility for needy people, slashing benefits or both," Carly Putnam with the Oklahoma Policy Institute said in January.

The Tulsa Regional Chamber and dozens of local business leaders are in the nation’s capital right now.

Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal said they’re meeting with Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and other federal officials to lobby for policies in the OneVoice legislative agenda.

"We've worked diligently this spring around the state agenda. We're now turning up the heat on the federal agenda between now and the end of the year," Neal said.

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