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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.


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…

Ten years after the oft-quoted "A Nation at Risk" raised red flags about a failing American school system, two other respected educators are again warning that public education is in trouble.Yet in Buffalo, a recent poll found the public schools near the bottom of the list when it comes to things city residents are worried about.It's no shock that crime and drugs topped …

So, we won't have Jimmy Griffin to kick people around anymore. Buffalo will hardly know how to conduct a mayoral race without pugilism's gift to politics. In fact, he's missed already. Sizing up the field at this point shows only a political schizophrenic and the other guy -- the one who evokes no image at all. It's hardly a field of dream candidates.But there's a ca…

"Street academy." The name says it all.It's the place where education leaves the formality of the classroom -- with its physical and pedagogical boundaries -- and reaches students on the streets where they live. Or, more precisely, where they play.The sites could be parks, playgrounds, gyms or any other places young people will hang out this summer. Roving teams of teacher…

Bosnian war victims. Haitian refugees. U.S. drug policy.They all are areas in which candidate Bill Clinton drew sharp distinctions between himself and former President George Bush -- and then took office and adopted much the same policy.And that doesn't even count his other abandoned vows, such as not to tax the middle class or to make sure people using federal resources p…

If one of the defense lawyers in the Los Angeles police-beating trial is to be believed, violence pays.The attorney representing Stacey Koon, the sergeant in charge of the uniformed hit team, called his convicted client a "sacrificial animal" offered up to keep the peace.The implication in that bit of self-serving hyperbole is that last year's riots following the first tri…

So far, all of the talk about the $16 billion plan to stimulate the economy has predictably focused on numbers -- those both in the package and in the Senate.After all, numbers are easy to count and always provide fodder for conflict.Thus the shrill fiscal debate over whether the package is really needed, whether it's large enough to have any real impact, or whether minori…

All of those who want to skip the victory party are excused.It's the bash that every American president periodically holds to trumpet the free market's crushing victory over the forces of evil and state control.Following presidents before him, Bill Clinton commenced his version with last weekend's Vancouver summit. The need for U.S. aid to help beleaguered Russian leader B…

Thank Ralph Wilson for the cold slap. His ungracious remarks about Erie County's stadium study, and the possibility he may blackmail the area by stalling lease-renewal talks, are a wake-up call. They put an end to hype-induced slumber about the importance of sports teams.Wilson's slap could even have a spillover effect on the Buffalo Sabres, who are pressing the county to…