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Rod Watson

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.


Columns

When a 20-year-old man was shot to death July 29 in a dispute with his Carl Street neighbor, the mayor and police were quick to note that the victim had been in jail the night before. Their point: Why was he back on the streets the next day? As complaints about a courtroom "revolving door" escalate and police and judges trade barbs over the cause, the solution lies with t…

Columns

The cases read like a point by point description of what is wrong with the criminal justice system: • The 16-year-old had five separate armed robberies on his record, but instead of being in jail, he got another gun and killed a cab driver during one more armed robbery in 2013. • The 25-year-old was charged in one shooting when he saw the woman he thought had fingered hi…

Columns

Hypocrisy never sounded so good. But let’s not quibble now that Rep. Chris Collins has finally hit on something I can agree with: New York’s SAFE Act is a useless abomination. From the silly attempt to limit magazine size to seven rounds (firearms manufacturers laughed!) to the so-called "assault weapons" ban that is actually just a cosmetic features ban, the law was…

Columns

"Thanks to Deputy Richard, the streets were safer that evening." – Erie County Sheriff’s Chief John Greenan ... Technically, Greenan was right. Since Deputy Lee Richard was in a parking lot – not on the streets – when he slammed 57-year-old Bobbie Mael to the pavement, leaving her face a bloody mess of cuts and bruises, the streets themselves were safer, at least tempora…

Columns

 When MaryEllen Elia took over as state education commissioner, one of her first directives was to warn the Buffalo School Board to cut the crap or else. Since then, she’s gotten an up-close-and-personal look at how high the board can pile it. Elia’s public hearing on the effort to remove Board Member Carl Paladino exposed the dysfunction and disrespect for the public’s …

Columns

No silver bullets. That was supposed to have been the lesson learned from the Bass Pro Shops debacle. But after it was reinforced by the Urban Land Institute’s report on what to do with the Central Terminal, the local reaction could leave one wondering just how teachable we are. “Waste of time” and “disappointed and underwhelmed” were some of the public reactions,…

Columns

With the Carl Paladino hearing over, the betting window is now open. In the race from the bottom to respect the citizens who pay their salaries, the front-runners have to be the Buffalo School Board and the Erie County Water Authority – if only because they have so much to clean up. After running with the pack so for so many years, the School Board made itself the odds-o…

Applications for the $5,000 Jacquie Walker Scholarship offered by the Buffalo branch of the American Association of University Women are due by July 15. The scholarship is open to female residents of the eight counties of Western New York who graduated from a high school in the region. An applicant must have completed two years of college and be a full-time student i…

Columns

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 defender. The…

Local News

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 Counc…

Columns

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 accomplish …

Columns

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 remember if h…

Columns

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 have no…

Columns

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 June…