Rod Watson, The Buffalo News
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Rod Watson

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Rod Watson has been a weekly columnist for The Buffalo News since 1992, writing most often about socioeconomic and political issues affecting minorities and/or the poor, as well as about local government. In addition, as urban affairs editor, Watson oversees coverage of the city school system, transportation and politics.

Western New York high school and college students will be among the beneficiaries when the Buffalo branch of the American Association of University Women opens its 63rd Scholarship Book Sale  on May 31 in the Burlington Plaza, 1551 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst. More than 150,000 books, DVDs, CDs, games and puzzles will be on sale during the five-day event that ends J…

When the pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Bill Gates appeared on screen during the workshop, the young men immediately recognized them. The images of Benjamin Banneker, Henry Sampson and Lonnie Johnson? Not so much. None of the students of color at last weekend’s Boys to Men Youth Empowerment Conference recognized any of the highly accomplished black…

It sounds like language you’d expect only at a right-wing hate rally held behind closed doors. Instead, it’s posted in the comments section of a local news station – and sometimes allowed to remain up for days or weeks at a time, even after drawing complaints. References to "cannibals," "chimps," "savages" and a "cooncert" involving black musicians are not what you…

The Buffalo Association of Black Journalists is accepting applications for its 2017 Carl R. Allen Memorial Scholarship. The deadline is June 30. The Buffalo News and the Buffalo Newspaper Guild also contribute to the competitive $1,000 scholarship. The scholarship is open to African-American high school seniors, as well as college freshmen, sophomores and juniors who…

Sometimes, fancy verbiage is merely annoying. Just ask those of a certain age who remember when pitchers had speed and control, not velocity and location; when running backs got a gain or a loss, not positive or negative yardage; and when inside the 20 was just inside the 20, before it became color-coded. But at other times, words have life and death implications –…

There will be a lot of talk about a "spoiler" in this year’s mayoral race, and why not? After all, unless one of them drops out, either Byron Brown or Mark Schroeder will be blamed for potentially splitting the male vote and opening the way for Buffalo’s first female chief executive. But of course, that’s not the kind of spoiler anyone envisions in a city long know…

Free tours of the Nash House Museum – plus cake – will be offered Monday when the landmark celebrates the 149th birthday of the Rev. J Edward Nash, a key figure in the city's history and the civil rights movement. From 1892 until his retirement in 1953, Nash was pastor of the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church, a key stop on the Underground Railroad that hos…

The two stories on the same front page, each dealing with racial equity, leave two inescapable questions: Is the glass half-empty or half-full? And either way, are we willing to pour any more into the effort? The death of U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin is a reminder of a time when, despite virulent and even violent opposition, courts saw the Constitution as a vehicle …

Critics are absolutely right that Earl Jann Jr., the Erie County Water Authority board chairman, should not be handed the $145,000 executive director’s post without finding out if there might be more-qualified candidates around. In fact, there’s no need to look far. Jann’s rationale for moving into the administrator’s chair after his board term expires? All of th…

The  Buffalo NAACP is hosting a "meet and greet" from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday in the William-Emslie Family YMCA, 585 William St. The event will provide an opportunity for members of the community to meet members of the branch, learn about its numerous committees and find out what initiatives the local branch is working on, as well as to learn about current issues a…

I’m on the verge of being exposed – and eliminated. After two and half decades of writing about seemingly intractable problems that really just exemplify Buffalo Niagara’s inability to resolve anything, a pint-sized gizmo with computer chips for brains is ready to take my job. When The Westin Buffalo’s Relay Robot delivered its first towels, toothpaste and cockta…

Organizers are seeking participants for a "fishbowl" Saturday at East High School to explore the "crisis in black education" and the community's responsibility in educating youth. The goal is to come up with solutions to one key educational issue that community members have the power to solve. The fishbowl involves participants sitting in concentric circles with th…

Democrats ready to capitalize on the GOP’s health care debacle have the perfect opportunity to remind folks that government can work for people. There’s just one problem: First you have to make sure government works – especially the government that you run. In this bluest of states, the ongoing failures of both the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Cuomo admin…

If government can’t even get the little things right, why should we trust it with the big things? That’s the question municipalities should ask themselves when figuring out how to respond to a watchdog group’s report that gives failing grades to 14 out of 16 local governments on that most basic of tasks: letting the public know what they are doing in its name. …

They came. They saw. They spent. But will they come back? Or will the friends they tell about fabulous, resurgent Buffalo come to see for themselves? In other words, is the NCAA tournament – and other events like it – a one-and-done infusion of people and cash that disappears when the fans do? Or is there a residual economic benefit as visitors who learn about the …