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Rod Watson

Rod Watson has been a weekly columnist for The Buffalo News since 1992. In addition, as urban affairs editor, Watson oversees coverage of the city school system, City Hall reporting, the federal courts, transportation and politics.


Neither Bob Dole nor Bill Clinton ever met Henry Williams of Buffalo -- and it's probably a good thing.Both would take parts of Williams' fledging inner-city golf program and turn it into a partisan photo-op, and that would be too bad.That's because the program for youngsters -- like so many things in the real world -- is at neither political extreme. It's just a common-s…

What an amusing diversion it was not long ago to listen to the foes of so-called "multiculturalism." They warned that it would spread throughout the land and divide the country to the point that it would be ungovernable.Of course, all of that was before Republican Sen. Phil Gramm put Democratic health bills on a scale for the cameras, and before Democrats complained abou…

If you think the health-care debate has turned into a partisan mud-wrestling contest -- complete with threats of filibusters and TV props on the floor of the Senate -- just wait until Congress starts arguing the details of welfare reform.A preview of what's to come has already been provided, thanks to the good folks at CHANGE-NY.As parsimonious with the truth as with publi…

The most amazing thing about the recent focus on blacks' and whites' differing perceptions of the O.J. Simpson case is that some people still seem amazed by these divergent perspectives.The notion that the prism of race remains the most powerful lens through which American life is viewed seems continually to come as a surprise to some.The result, in this case, was a spate …

Forget about the $2 million bus caravan. Scratch the July 30 rally at the birthplace of failed health-care reformer Harry Truman. And forget the spoof of the "Harry and Louise" ads, as well as all the other gambits being tried by Democrats to rouse the public.The White House is going about this all wrong.If Clintonites really want to drum up public support for universal …

It's funny how social problems just seem to follow this nation around.For all of its "progress," it never seems to outrun them. The most it can do is change the context; it keeps contending with the same human shortcomings -- but in a different format.That comes to mind as travelers on the information superhighway fret over the technological equivalent of everything from …

Say you've hiked taxes, laid off hundreds of people and cut services -- and that's the good part of your record!Do you suppose you might get a little panicky, knowing how the informed electorate reacts?Add to that the fact that your two biggest victories came against one opponent who was politically dead and another who was dead but just didn't know it yet. And for good m…

Just when it seemed the inability to produce universal health care was due to rampant dimwittedness in Washington, along comes a spark of ingenuity that restores faith in congressional creativity.The only problem is that in rewriting the dictionary to meet their goal and bail themselves out before Election Day, the nation's top 535 sales reps may do even more damage to a…

For all of the media hype about who was there and for all of the air time some of the luminaries can command, the problems of black America won't be solved by the 100 African-Americans who gathered in Baltimore this week.At most, those who went behind closed doors for the NAACP-sponsored summit can be public relations agents for change, raising enough cane to bring atten…

The idea of making education relevant to students is hardly new. It has long been pushed by those who've complained that biased tests and books that don't take into account some kids' experiences are part of the reason poor students fare so poorly.But a Chicago teacher's overzealous effort to make school "real" for his young pupils should be a reminder that teaching mat…

It would be a great public service if someone could come up with a few rules about when free expression -- particularly when it involves race -- is OK and when it's not.As things stand now, it's a little bit confusing. And the resulting hypocrisy and double standards are more threatening to social harmony than any of the venomous thoughts expressed by one angry group or …

During the Civil War, Union Gen. George McClellan was ignominiously relieved of his command. It seems McClellan liked to endlessly drill his troops; yet despite overwhelming numerical superiority, he didn't want to actually send them into battle.That didn't sit too well in Washington, where his superiors had a hard time figuring out why they had given him such a great army…

It's a source of constant amazement when people not in the underclass try to dissect and decipher those who are, as if their motivations are somehow so different from those of everyone else.The latest such effort comes courtesy of the May Atlantic Monthly.The cover depicts an eye-catching black man -- complete with menacing shades, cap turned backward, the requisite gold c…

Two experiences last year provide a neat summary of the gun-control debate and point out why, as with most contentious national issues, both extremes are wrong.They came to mind this week because of the assault weapon debate on Capitol Hill and the realization that a mandate for truth in advertising might make both sides get out of town before sundown.In one instance, I …

Anyone with any doubts at all about the injustice of caning as a form of social control should have had them erased last weekend with the leaking of a report on New York City police corruption.What does the conduct of Big Apple cops have to do with the bruising of an American teen's backside in Singapore?Everything, because it's a good bet that most Americans who support S…