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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.

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…

Ignorance can be deadly. That’s why Minister Dahveed Muhammad wants to clear up misconceptions around the “no snitch” code of the streets that stops many from cooperating with police to solve crimes. With eight homicides in just the first month of the new year, most of them in East Side neighborhoods where law-abiding residents have no means of escape, he wants…

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher had little information this week for state legislators querying her about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for free tuition at the state’s colleges and universities. Lawmakers curious about everything from costs to capacity got few answers. But taxpayers got even fewer about a question that legislators apparently didn’t dwell on but should hav…

Two teen-aged Buffalo males were struck by gunfire around 2 a.m. Sunday in the Kensington-Bailey area on the city’s East Side. A 16-year-old was treated and released from Erie County Medical Center while a 17-year-old was listed in fair condition at ECMC following the shootings at Cornwall Avenue and Sussex Street. Anyone with information is asked to call or text the P…

A 63-year-old Olean man was identified by police Sunday as the suspect in a fire early Saturday morning that forced tenants out of a Bailey Avenue apartment building. Buffalo fire marshals arrested Roger Cornell in connection with the fire at 437 Bailey. Cornell was charged late Saturday night with arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Fire marshal…

It turned out to be much more – and much less – than expected. For all of the justified euphoria over the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama on Friday will leave behind many of the same structural inequities African-Americans coped with under his predecessors. Which raises the question: What did it all mean? Putting race aside, his accomplishments with n…

You can’t blame Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a "free college" tuition initiative that sounds like a liberal’s dream but is actually a lot less progressive than it seems. Any rational politician would do the same thing if he wanted to win re-election in a state like New York or still had hopes of galvanizing a progressive coalition for a White House bid. Cuomo is pushing a p…

Ubiquitous presidential mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway apparently didn’t get the memo from Donald Trump. The president-elect promised to be the champion of "the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice." That’s why I expect the transition team to announce any minute now that the $5,000-a-head shindig at a swanky Delaware Av…