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.

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 …

Donald Trump’s supporters like to rationalize his chaotic first weeks by chortling that he is doing exactly what he said he’d do. There’s just one problem: He never said he’d do it to them. As his plan to protect entitlements while boosting military spending and cutting domestic programs by the same amount takes shape, one unlikely demographic group will bear the…

Dec. 24, 1923 -- March 6, 2017 Samuel O. "Odell" Hatten, who worked on some of the area’s biggest construction projects during a three-decade career as a labor superintendent,  died Monday in his Buffalo home. He was 93. A native of Blythewood, S.C., Mr. Hatten came to Buffalo in 1947 and, three years later, began a 31-year career with the John W. Cowper Co.  Duri…

Motoriswts traveling the Thruway between the Rochester and Palmyra exits can expect periodic slowdowns starting Monday as  National Grid replaces overhead utility lines that cross I-90  between exits 43 (Manchester – Palmyra – NY Route 21) and 44 (Canandaigua – Victor – NY Route 332). The work will require traffic slowdowns lasting no more than 15 minutes o…

A man believed to be in his 30s was driven to Erie County Medical Center just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday with what appeared to be a serious  gunshot wound, Buffalo police reported. Detectives are investigating if the incident happened in the vicinity of Broadway and Lathrop Street, but did not indicate why they thought the shooting might have occurred there. Anyo…

Speeding and burning rubber got three men arrested by Orchard Park police in two incidents late Saturday and early Sunday. In the first incident, Officer Gregory Sheppard pulled over a vehicle on Abbot Road for speeding at 10:14 p.m.  Driver Timothy Elvers, 36, of Orchard Park, appeared intoxicated and after field testing, was arrested, police said.  He refused a b…

Police arrested one customer and towed several illegally parked vehicles after doing an underage enforcement sting Saturday night at Cruisers Bar in the Town of Niagara. The raid at the Porter Road bar was in response to complaints of underage patrons being served alcohol, loud music and property damage, according to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, which conducted …

State troopers investigating a domestic dispute Friday ended up arresting a 40-year-old Newark man for aggravated driving while intoxicated after finding him in the town of Amity. Troopers found Conan B. Guard roadside with his vehicle on Hess Road.  They smelled alcohol while interviewing Guard, who failed a roadside sobriety test and registered a .19 percent -- m…

Role reversal in politics is common as situational ethics prompt elected officials to adopt or abandon positions as expediency dictates. But rarely is it as blatant as that exhibited by Rep. Chris Collins and other Republicans now running from the very folks they used to claim always know best. The GOP, after all, is the party that won power by tarring Democrats as "elit…

Two months after African-Americans lauded the idea of doing for self and economically supporting one another – key principles of Kwanzaa – they get the chance to convert the rhetoric into action. Saturday’s first annual Black Dollar Day Bazaar takes aim at the notion that African-Americans – as well as other marginalized groups – spend relatively little of the…

Buffalo Police are seeking help from the public after a 43-year-old man was fatally shot about 11:30 a.m. Sunday in the Broadway-Bailey area. Detectives said the shooting occurred at Ashley and Krupp streets and that the victim, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital and died Sunday night. Further information was unavailable. This is Buffalo's 10th homicide …

A body was pulled from the waters off Buffalo Harbor State Park around noon Sunday. Anglers fishing off the dock at the park said they spotted a man in a blue hoodie floating face down in the water and notified authorities. Buffalo police and firefighters responded to the scene to retrieve the body. The body may have been in the water for some time, according to a…

Does New York need more millionaires, or more relief for middle-class taxpayers? How you answer that question will determine whom you side with in the fight over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to extend the state’s “millionaires tax,” a levy vehemently opposed by Senate Republicans who never miss a chance to side with the wealthy. The surcharge on higher incomes, f…

A 22-year-old Buffalo man was shot outside a Military Road bar early Sunday, Buffalo police reported. The victim was hit by gunfire while outside of Maggie’s Bar & Grill in the 700 block of Military about 1:30 a.m. He was transported by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, where he was treated and released, police said. Anyone with information about the shootin…