Rod Watson - The Buffalo News

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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.


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…

Columns

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…

Columns

On my list of potential New Year’s resolutions, one stood out as I wistfully looked toward 2017. Alas, it already has been scratched from the compilation. How refreshing, I thought, to go a whole year without having occasion to write about race. We could devote that energy to more pressing causes once we acknowledged that race is primarily a social construct, not a bio…

Columns

So, our esteemed state legislators want a pay raise for the fine job they’re doing. I have no problem with that, even if – in what typifies the culture in Albany – they can’t even be honest about how they intend to get it. They swear to any god who will listen that there is no deal-making going on, even as they pursue a raise while Gov. Andrew Cuomo – with forme…

The first annual Dorie Miller Day will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Alphonso "Rafi" Green Jr. Masten Resource Center, 1423 Fillmore Ave. The event – on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – will include a video about Miller, the World War II sailor confined to mess attendant duty on the battleship USS West Virginia because of discrimination against…

An off-road trip through a crop field in the Town of Ellington landed a driver in trouble Saturday when the teen was unable to flee the scene because the vehicle got stuck. When State Police arrived, they were able to interview not only the land owner and witnesses, but the driver, as well. Police said the teen did about $1,500 worth of damage to crops and that the incid…

One reason Democrats will vacate the White House is that the black vote they count on did not materialize in the same numbers or percentages as in the Obama coalition. Blacks made up less of the electorate and – despite Donald Trump’s rhetoric – were fed up enough to give the Republican a bigger share of their vote. Apparently, you can only take people for granted f…

The annual Convening of the Elders hosted by UMOJA Inc. will take place Saturday in the Alphonso "Rafi" Greene Masten Resource Center, 1423 Fillmore Ave. The event begins with brunch at 11 a.m. followed by presentations from a variety of community leaders and activists starting at noon. Those scheduled to address challenges in the African-American community and potential…

Two convenience store workers were arrested after police said they sold alcohol to minors during an enforcement operation Sunday at 18 stores throughout Niagara County. Arrested were Mandi L. Printup, 35, of Middleport, an employee of Crosby’s on Telegraph Road in Middleport and Cecilia Silsby, 35, of Lockport, an employee of 7-11 on Park Avenue in the City of Lockport.…

A cab driver was shot and robbed early Sunday while picking up a fare near Detroit Street and Paderewski Drive, Buffalo police reported. The victim was transported to Erie County Medical Center, where he was treated and released. The gunman robbed the cab driver of an undisclosed amount of money just before 2:50 a.m. Anyone with information about the incident is asked t…

Three women were hit by gunfire just after 3 a.m. Sunday in Sweets Lounge at Olympic and Schreck avenues, according to Buffalo police. The three, in their late 20s to mid 30s, were taken to Erie County Medical Center with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call or text the confidential TIP-CALL line…

Local News

Donald Trump’s critics fear he will turn back the clock, while backers fervently hope he can. But when it comes to one of his key campaign promises – bringing back manufacturing jobs lost to other countries – they are both missing the point. Factory workers worried about their jobs as they rack up holiday bills should forget the question of whether other nations wil…