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.

As one of Chris Collins’ 27th District constituents, I have no objection to the congressman being armed the next time I attend a rally to tell him what a great job he’s doing – at least in theory, I don’t object. As they continually remind us at one of my gun clubs, cops don’t prevent crimes. They solve them. The stark reality is this: You are your own first def…

The significance of developing black economic clout will be the topic of the panel discussion "Conversations in Black Political Economy” at 2 p.m. Monday in Room HB 209 of the Classroom Building at SUNY Buffalo State. Panelists for the session, which is free and open to the public, will be: Curtis Haynes, Buffalo State associate professor of finance; former Common Co…

It’s not often you hear someone say how "happy" they are to live in New York, derided as among the highest-taxing states in the nation. But at a time when a GOP Congress is trying to undo the Affordable Care Act and Donald Trump wants to take a giant pair of scissors to the rest of the safety net, a new report underscores the importance of what those taxes can accomplis…

Forget about the fact that no one outside of New York is thinking about Andrew Cuomo’s 2020 presidential bid. The important thing is that the governor obviously is. How do I know that Cuomo is preparing for a presidential run? I’ve noticed that he has quietly been practicing how to lie. Recall that in February, Cuomo told The Buffalo News that he couldn’t remembe…

Here’s a modest proposal for Western New York agencies trying to figure out where to slash aid if Donald Trump’s budgetary assault on the working class is successful: Ask potential aid recipients if they voted for the president, and only serve those who answer "no." After all, Trump supporters are getting just what they voted for, and people who get what they want hav…

Call it the ultimate good versus evil showdown: The Gospel and the Koran versus the code of the streets. When the Rev. Darius Pridgen went public with photos of two men who broke into his church and appealed to "someone who cares enough about their community and these young men" to identify the burglars, it marked another call from the pulpit to reject the code of silence…

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…