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

C-SPAN

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as President Donald Trump's new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt was confirmed by a 52–46 vote. Senate Democrats failed in their effort to delay the confirmation vote until Feb. 27 in order to review roughly 3,000 emails a judge recently ordered released between his office and coal, oil and gas companies.

City of Tulsa

YWCA Tulsa and the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women recognized 11 women Thursday who have had a big impact in the community.

Women of the Year – Pinnacle Award winners work to achieve YWCA Tulsa's goals of eliminating racism and empowering women.

Youth at Heart President and CEO Jocelyn McCarver is among this year’s 10 winners. The after-school program brings tutoring, field trips, sports and other enrichment activities to underserved kids.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Permanent, Vision 2025–funded public art is officially on display along the Southwest Boulevard stretch of Route 66.

Three Indiana limestone monoliths each has its own theme celebrating Tulsa’s history during the Route 66 era.

"I was recently with the crew that will be on the soon-to-be launched USS Tulsa. They're coming to visit us, and they said, 'Where could we go where we could see Tulsa's history?' I think this is the first place we'll bring that crew," said City of Tulsa Economic Development Director Kathy Taylor.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The largest architecture- and design-focused film festival in the U.S. comes to Tulsa in April.

The Architecture and Design Film Festival has already visited Seoul, South Korea, this year and will travel to New Orleans and New York City after Tulsa.

"Our intent with the film festival is to provide avenues for the students and the general public, which would be everybody, to learn about the many aspects of design and about architecture so they can more readily appreciate what we have in Tulsa," said Tulsa Foundation for Architecture Executive Director Amanda DeCort.

Brian Nutt / City of Tulsa

The City of Tulsa will allow all 3,600 of its employees paid time to volunteer with Reading Partners.

Mayor G.T. Bynum signed an executive order Wednesday to allow employees up to two hours a week with Reading Partners. Bynum said the early literacy nonprofit’s work can change kindergarten through third grade students’ lives.

"If we can improve third grade reading proficiency, that dramatically improves their odds of graduating from high school, which then has a huge impact on their career moving forward and their productivity as adults," Bynum said.

Statements about neglect by children younger than 13 could be admissible in court under an Oklahoma House bill.

Right now, state law only allows such evidence in cases of physical or sexual abuse. Edmond Republican Kevin Calvey said expanding the law to include neglect, which is not defined in the bill, is going too far.

The Tulsa Route 66 Commission is hopeful about an effort to give the Mother Road a special status.

A bipartisan U.S. House bill would designate all 2,400 miles of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail.

"Since we're now making this great focus and push in Tulsa — this is at a federal level, but still, that gives us a better chance to ... help our 24 miles of the stretch of the road," said commission Chair Ken Busby.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An Oklahoma House budget subcommittee advances a bill meant to better prepare the state for revenue problems.

Rep. David Brumbaugh’s bill directs the tax commission to compute a five-year average of all general revenue fund sources for the Board of Equalization. Brumbaugh said the bill builds on work from 2016.

"Senate Bill 1030 ... that we introduced last year, I'm sure you'll recall was the three-year forecasting. This is the second part of this that allows us to look back at monthly and yearly peaks and valleys to come up with a more smoother approach," Brumbaugh said.

State of Oklahoma

State lawmakers are working on a bill its sponsor believes is necessary to curb sexual abuse of students by Oklahoma school employees.

Senate Bill 392 would prohibit school district employees from helping a colleague get a new job in a different district if they know or have reason to believe that person is engaged in an illegal relationship with a student. The bill's author, Sen. Kyle Loveless, said Oklahomans have become desensitized to such behavior.

The oil and gas industry continued a slow recovery this week, as the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 12 to 741.

Oklahoma, however, is among eight states with no change in their numbers.

A year ago, 541 rigs were active.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 591 rigs sought oil and 149 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Texas increased by seven rigs, New Mexico was up by four rigs, Louisiana and West Virginia each gained two and Pennsylvania was up one.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum took his gospel on data-driven policy to the nation’s capital.

As part of a talk about reducing partisanship in local government titled "Why Partisan Rhetoric is for Losers," Bynum retold the story of his Tulsa mayoral election victory over Dewey Bartlett. Bynum said despite being cast as a Democrat in the nonpartisan race while Bartlett sold himself as a Republican’s Republican, he relied on data-driven policy to win by 17 points.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Among the first bills passed by the Oklahoma House are two restoring some of the legislature’s oversight of rules written by state agencies.

Muskogee Republican George Faught said in 2013 the state changed from requiring standalone legislation for new rules to an omnibus process, where all new rules are in a single, lengthy bill. Faught said the Senate hasn’t passed an omnibus resolution since.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

River West Festival Park will host roughly a dozen female-led acts at a new music festival May 13.

MisFEST — Mis is short for "Music Is She" — organizers want to empower women and provide a platform for them to succeed in the music industry.

"Whether it's sound engineering, video production ... songwriting, performing, instrumentation — and just to truly have a community of women that support one another, because we're just stronger in collaboration than we are in competition," said Amira Al-Jiboori.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

The retrial of a former Tulsa police officer charged with killing his daughter's boyfriend is back on track after defense claims of mishandled evidence.

At issue is a small plastic bag a property clerk accidentally released to Lisa Kepler along with the rest of Jeremy Lake’s belongings when she claimed her ID a year and a half ago.

File Photo

Oklahoma's head of cyber security told lawmakers Thursday the state is making strides but is in danger of falling behind the bad guys.

Consolidation of Oklahoma's state IT systems means nearly 39,000 state assets are now under real-time monitoring by a dedicated cyber security center. Chief Security Officer Mark Gower said that's saved money and increased security.

Wikipedia

A campaign to replace Tulsa's vanilla flag is going strong.

Engagement is high for the largely social media–based campaign that began in November. Campaign leader Joey Wignarajah said several concepts are proving popular.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Public Schools, the district bike club and the city parks department may team up on a series of off-road bike trails.

TPS representatives recently traveled to Bentonville and Rogers, Ark., to check out bike trails. There are opportunities to create similar trails here where parks and schools are next to each other. Tulsa Parks Director Lucy Dolman said TPS has asked the parks department to get involved.

"We're really excited about it and think there's only positives and it would only make the community a little more active and a little healthier," Dolman said.

ODOT

Lawmakers face another year of tough budget decisions, but one has asked for a source of funds tapped before to be made off-limits.

Broken Arrow Republican Rep. David Brumbaugh is leading a charge to put Oklahoma’s transportation funds in a "lockbox." He said taking transportation funding to ease budget shortfalls has become common practice.

"Last year, we took $365 million out of transportation funding and put a direct amount of $50 million right to our general revenue fund, and we can't sustain that," Brumbaugh said.

Tulsa is on track to have an African-American Affairs Commission after a couple years of delays.

An ordinance creating the commission goes to the city council this week. The ordinance calls for 23 members to be appointed for terms beginning May 1.

File Photo

A resource center for Oklahoma nonprofits raises concerns over the movement to allow political activity by tax-exempt organizations.

Similar U.S. House and Senate measures would accomplish President Donald Trump's stated goal of destroying the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofits from political activity for or against particular candidates, to allow churches broader political involvement.

The Oklahoma Arts Council wants a little more state money next year for certain programs.

The arts council request for fiscal year 2018 asks for "targeted investments" — funding increases for grants to teacher professional development, community arts programs and an arts in the military program started last year.

Arts council Executive Director Amber Sharples said the military program helps veterans.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa Regional Chamber announced Friday its annual list of priorities for lawmakers.

The OneVoice agenda covers state and federal issues to support an educated and healthy workforce, a prosperous economy, and infrastructure critical to business. Nearly 70 partner organizations helped build and endorsed the chamber's 10th annual agenda.

"When we join together to speak with one voice, the power and validity of our agenda increases," said Tulsa Regional Chamber Chairman Phil Albert.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

With a nearly $900 million budget shortfall to make up, Oklahoma lawmakers are set to again consider raising the cigarette tax in their quest for new revenue.

Last year, with a $1.3 billion hole, a $1.50 per pack tax hike fell by the wayside,  a casualty of political hardball.

Besides being a way to discourage smoking, a cigarette tax increase was a popular funding mechanism in 2016. There were bills using per-pack increases to pay for teacher raises, common education and health insurance.

Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission

Tulsa's city council has taken up the zoning change needed before work starts on a north Tulsa business park funded in the Vision renewal.

The 112-acre site is at 36th Street North and Peoria Avenue. Residents have concerns over truck traffic on Mohawk Boulevard the development may bring.

There are concessions to mitigate that in the final plan. INCOG's Susan Miller said an ODOT bridge replacement on 36th Street North will also allow trucks to use to use that road again, reducing traffic on Mohawk.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City, education and economic leaders want to improve Tulsa’s FAFSA completion rate after only about half of Tulsa’s high school class of 2015 finished one.

According to ImpactTulsa, that equates to roughly $15 million in federal financial aid left on the table. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is required for grants and most scholarships.

"And studies show that if high school students actually fill out FAFSA, they're 30 percent more likely to go ahead and enroll in postsecondary education," said ImpactTulsa Executive Director Kathy Seibold.

The Lakota Group

A preliminary land use plan for the upcoming Peoria Avenue bus rapid transit route says the city may want to change how a lot of the land is zoned.

The plan was developed during a survey period that included six public workshops, three walking tours and two days of focus groups.

Much of the land along the route is zoned for commercial use. Duncan Associates' Kirk Bishop said that allows flexibility for future economic development the rapid transit route should encourage.

KWGS News File Photo

The City of Tulsa is weighing its options as EMSA faces a lawsuit in Texas federal court.

City councilors, Mayor G.T. Bynum and city attorneys met in executive session for almost two hours Thursday to discuss whether any steps need to be taken to protect the city. No action was taken.

City attorneys said more research is needed, but options could include the city taking independent legal action or  getting involved in the existing lawsuit.

Equality Center-Facebook

Tulsa's major LGBTQ advocate praised a recent change by the Boy Scouts that will let transgender boys participate.

The Boy Scouts used to defer to a potential scout’s birth certificate for his gender, but the organization will now accept the gender marked on applications.

Oklahomans for Equality Director Toby Jenkins said there have always been transgender children, but they didn’t have good mental health and advocacy resources until recently.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Faith and community leaders joined together Tuesday to condemn the president’s recent ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominately Muslim nations.

Many praised local officials — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado, TU President Gerry Clancy, OU President Dan Boren, OSU President Burns Hargis and Sen. James Lankford —  for their responses to the ban.

Aliye Shimi with Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries said it's no different from previous bans on immigrants from Ireland, China and Japan.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics will continue work this year to support rural law enforcement agencies.

Director John Scully said the bureau is focusing less on the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas because their law enforcement agencies have the resources for most drug investigations.

Pages