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While you were out 

The painstaking effort to launch a fast ferry between Rochester and Toronto got a big push on November 20, when the municipal Rochester Urban Renewal Agency agreed to be the "conduit" for state funds earmarked for the project. The Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority was originally selected to transfer a $6.6 million state loan to Canadian American Transportation Systems, the company hoping to operate the ferry. But that conduit blew a fuse amid RGRTA officials' fears that CATS didn't have the financing to make the project a success and would or could sue the authority if the project hit further snags. City officials don't seem nearly as paranoid about the project, which is now on track to become a reality in May 2004.

After a year of discussions among law enforcement officials, community leaders, educators, and experts, Police Chief Robert Duffy announced that the city hasn't made a damn bit of progress toward alleviating the plague of drug addiction afflicting the Rochester area. If anything, a year after a drug summit convened to tackle the topic, the situation has gotten worse. Increased law enforcement has had no effect on the city's drug markets; education about the dangers of drug use hasn't made a dent in demand; and drug treatment facilities have more addicts seeking help than money to help them. A report on this sorry situation is due in mid-December, Duffy says.

Speaking of sorry situations, Xerox announced it was axing as many as 530 employees from its local workforce in an effort to streamline its operations and satisfy wealthy, worried investors. Combined with 100 workers laid off earlier this month, and the voluntary severance packages the company offered to union employees on November 15 (in hopes 250 union members would hit the bricks), 880 Xeroxers could be ex-Xeroxers by year's end. Addressing investors at the posh Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan, Xerox Chairman and CEO Anne Mulcahy said, "We do not anticipate any major headcount activities" in 2003, but added, "Of course, you can never say 'Never.'" In fact, we can say "never," as in "We've never heard someone refer to firing people as a 'headcount activity' before."

On November 25, Mayor Bill Johnson turned down an offer by the Monroe County Water Authority to purchase the city's water system for as much as $88 million, citing the fact the city would lose money on the deal and concerns the authority would develop land in the Canadice and Hemlock lakes' watershed, the source of the city's supply. Concerns the authority would retaliate by draining Lake Ontario (its water source), thus dooming the ferry project, were not aired publicly.

--- Compiled by Chris Busby from news reports, interviews, and translations of Mulcahyian business-speak.

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