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.


Suppose, instead of giving the German tourist killed last week a packet of safety information, Florida officials had instead given him a handgun and a temporary permit?Or suppose the British tourist killed there Tuesday, or Michael Jordan's father, had been carrying one when either of them pulled off the road at a rest stop -- and had been awake when their killers approa…

Remember the broad-based energy tax. Remember mohair (and honey). Remember timber. Having that good a memory should protect from the hazards of getting overly excited about the so-called "Reinventing Government" report released the other day.The death of a comprehensive energy tax, the continuing life of outdated subsidies for goat and bee farmers, and the rush to compr…

Now that baby Angela has survived nearly two weeks after being separated from her Siamese twin, the nation has rejoiced at the miracle and questions about the controversial -- and costly -- surgery are not nearly as sharp as they would have been had the operation failed.But that's somewhat akin to the cheers that greet the team that, instead of punting, completes a long…

In an age of rampant cynicism, it would seem almost passe.This notion of marching on Washington -- again -- 30 years after an era that was supposed to make such excursions unnecessary sounds like the desperate cry of a movement that has run out of ideas.It's not surprising that civil rights leaders organizing Saturday's 30th anniversary of the great 1963 march don't see it…

It's not surprising that the Buffalo mayor's race is turning into a contest to see who can appear tougher on crime.What is surprising -- or maybe not, considering how political office is won -- is the relative lack of attention to the cause of much of that crime.As the city continues on a near-record pace of murders, many are linked in one way or another to the drug trade.…

When a federal judge turned over every legal stone searching for ways to give two Los Angeles cops a slap on the wrist for beating Rodney King, he created far more problems than just the one of trying to defend an indefensible sentence.The real problem showed up quickly in another courtroom not far away. That's where California state Judge John Ouderkirk felt compelled to …

It was absolutely stunning testimony. In fact, I thought I was dreaming when I turned on CNN during the world premier industry conference on TV violence the other day.There was the head of a major network testifying in the somber tones of a congressman caught with too much money and not enough postage stamps.And no wonder. He was in effect conceding that, yes, indeed, he…

Beyond the terror and sheer lunacy underlying the foiled plot to wage war on blacks in Los Angeles, the one aspect of the plan that jumped most vividly from the front pages was the age of the suspects.One expects such viciousness from your garden variety, middle-aged white supremacist nurtured on biases of a supposedly-bygone era.The hope is that all we have to do is bide…

Leave it to the New York State Legislature to miss the point.In their infinite concern for our well being -- and amid the rush to adjourn last week -- the lawmakers decided to crack down on that handful of people who drive without licenses.Those people are hardly the problem. The real danger is the other 10.3 million with licenses who still don't know how to drive. They're…

In the wake of the Lani Guinier fiasco, there is no guarantee that President Clinton won't still pull the rug from under University of Pennsylvania President Sheldon Hackney, his nominee to head the National Endowment for the Humanities. He shouldn't.It might turn out that Hackney is, indeed, not suited for the new job. But there is no way of knowing from his performance a…

Buffalo's mayoral candidates have been talking a lot lately about doing more to help police protect citizens from the bad apples roaming the streets. Anything they can do to keep such promises in a city plagued by growing crime will be welcome.But what about the other side of the coin? What about protecting citizens from the bad apples who wear badges?All of the talk ab…

It would be nice to be able to support the death penalty as it makes news again.As prosecutors try to execute alleged drug kingpin Darryl "Reese" Johnson, it is hard to conjure up much sympathy.If the reputed murderer is indeed responsible for importing Los Angeles-style drug violence to Western New York, he deserves to die. It would be a just end.But that was only one re…

With Bill Clinton lacking the constitution to lead as the Constitution envisions, and Congress structurally incapable of doing so, the only hope is a new rule of thumb to guide political discourse.In fact, we could start it now and leave it in effect for the remainder of the debate over Clinton's budget proposal. Simply put, it would be that no member of the Senate -- or…

It's funny that a report about hatred coming out of Boston -- a city having its own racial problems -- would emerge at the same time that Buffalo goalie Grant Fuhr was having trouble going golfing.The Fuhr case has already brought the requisite hand-wringing, backing-and-filling and assertions that it was all a big mistake. Of course the black superstar's checkbook is good…

While the United States and its allies dance a diplomatic minuet to the sound of gunfire killing Bosnian Muslims, still hovering in the background is the possibility U.S. troops may eventually be needed.But while the entire nation weighs President Clinton's promise of no ground forces against the moral imperative of stopping slaughter and aggression, African-Americans wil…