Thursday, December 23, 2010

How many Scrooges sit on council?

With respect to the recycling debate Pat Lorje says "When Cosmo got assurance council would make sure that there was always a role on any go-forward basis I would have hoped it relieved any anxiety. I don't think it has." Within the same article (SP Dec. 23/10) it quotes from the Globe and Mail piece that some Saskatoon city councillors are "skeptical about the value of the charity but wary of being seen as opposing disability rights." Perhaps this last quote is reason enough for Cosmo to be anxious about its future.

Interestingly enough these councillors are most concerned about how their decision will reflect on them and their political futures than how it will affect the Cosmo kids.

If some councillors are skeptical of the value of Cosmo they should be talking to the families of the Cosmo kids. Cosmo is not just a workplace. It is a gathering place for people with intellectual disabilities that provides them with a sense of purpose, a peer group and a social outlet. Without Cosmo these good people would be languishing at whatever residence they have with little or no contact with one another or with the wider community.

Forcing Cosmo to pay minimum wage would in effect shut them down. The stipend they do get is used in some measure to teach them how to use money and generally pays for their social activities. Should they receive minimum wage from Cosmo Industries the province would no doubt deduct their wages from the monthly support payment which would leave them in a terribly impoverished situation and with no ability to improve the quality of their lives.

This article quickly points out the city's dollar subsidy to Cosmo but neglects to mention the savings to the city as a result of Cosmo diverting 14,000 metric tonnes of paper from the landfill each year. Although there may be cost attached to acts of humanity, it know in this case it is far lesser than the ongoing squandering by this council. And the financial support for Cosmo it a drop in the bucket compared to the tax breaks given to businesses and developers.

This whole discussion angers me in that I feel some councillors are setting the stage for the tragic drama of destroying Cosmo and attempting to make themselves look like good, caring and concerned politicians while doing so. We have some very shameful people leading our city.


  1. Did it provide a list of the Councillors who are 'skeptical of the value" of Cosmo industries?

    Someone should inform them that cutting off Cosmo would be far more detrimental to their political careers than bankrupted the city coffers.

    Also Mistress, you must be dismayed to be sitting on the same side of the fence as Lorje on this issue, no?

  2. Anon 7:23,

    Are you serious!!! I don't think the Mistress was implying the Lorje is a supporter of Cosmo. Her track record of comments and innuendos show she has continually tried to take apart Cosmo and put roadblocks in their way. I know the Mistress is a more caring person and would rather give Cosmo all the program support they need compared to Pat.

  3. The exact quote from the Globe
    "Some are skeptical about the value of the charity, but wary of being seen as opposing disability rights. They’ve called for specifics on worker conditions and participation. “Those are questions that need to be addressed,” said Councillor Pat Lorje, a former provincial MLA. Any solution will likely guarantee a level of employment for the four to eight workers, so councillors hope Cosmo’s complaints become a moot point.

    In the meantime, Saskatoon will remain Canada’s lone wolf of recycling for months to come.

    “Saskatoon is the leader in so many different things,” Ms. Lorje says. “And yet for some reason the recycling issue has eluded us so far.”"

    These quotes definitely show Lorje is not a fan of Cosomo or it's focus. Why would Council need to know the business operations of Cosmo? I fear her and others just want to get this recycling program in as a way to increase civic union empolyment.

  4. Sounds like Pat is trying to add Cosmo to her family of union brother and sisters.

    Put in the blue box program. Dont let the city run it. Utilize Cosmo and other PRIVATE business. Tweak it as you go. There is no way we can get a perfect solution without a little trial and error.

  5. "Put in the blue box program. Dont let the city run it. Utilize Cosmo and other PRIVATE business. Tweak it as you go. There is no way we can get a perfect solution without a little trial and error."

    We already have a privately run blue box program, what you are advocating is that the City obligate each land owner to enter a contract with a private company for recycling? What if a citizen says no or disagrees with the program?

    Any city run program will be another huge expense for tax payers, despite what Sean Shaw and the others say. The program will be operated by union city workers making grossly obscene amount of money (a pittance compared to subsidy city could offer). Cosmo will not and does not fit into the city's plans in this regard. We are about to see the sad end of a great organization in Cosmo

  6. Just to confirm, what is the city's obligation to Cosmo in terms of money? Do they give a grant or subsidize certain aspects of the business?

  7. Wow, the paranoia level is nice and high today.

    It seems like people here are saying that Lorje is attacking cosmo and proving that she wants to destroy that organization because she was asking for clarification about what they do and how they opperate.

    I think that is good information to have when people are also saying that a mandatory curbside program will ruin Cosmo. How are we supposed to know if curbside recycling will ruin Cosmo's programs if we don't have all the details about how they opperate?

    How can you be so sure that they can't be incorporated into the mandatory city-run curbside system if we don't know how they opperate? Lorje is just asking for the full picture so she can hopefully make an informed decision. I'd rather that than just write off ideas because of assumptions of how Cosmo works. Maybe Cosmo's programming could change to provide the same benefit to the employees/particpants but by doing different work that fits with a new recycling program? Or other civic activty. It seems everyone is agreed that the benefit of cosmo is mostly the opportunity/activity of the employees, maybe the activity could change to some other needed service.

    I think Lorje raises pretty valid questions and if we are actually concerned about finding the best solution for recycling, we should look at all the options and have all the information on the table and that includes how Cosmo operates and the options available for incorporating them into a city program and information like what are the costs for a new landfill if we don't increase our recycling rates.

    It seems to me that Cosmo is becoming the rallying point for people who just don't want a curbside recycling program. If there wasn't the underlying distaste for a mandatory curbside program would everyone here be fighting so hard to help Cosmo? Or would it be another program that is just a drain on your tax dollars?

  8. Anon 11:42,

    Your speculation is wide ranging. I think much of the unrest lies in the fact that people in this city have grown to see the value in the Cosmo program and what it provides.

    There is concern that those who are pushing the recycling program have no regard for anything or anyone other than getting the recycling program installed. Whether Cosmo is involved or not, they just want their program.

    That at least from people I have talked with has been a concern for many in Saskatoon.

  9. Fair enough....but why the concern with finding out how Cosmo operates?

    That seems like a smart thing....have the facts, then make a decision.

  10. NO ONE at Cosmo has ever said that a mandatory curbside collection system will ruin Cosmo. I've watched the recycling issue really carefully and that has never been Cosmo's position.

    Their concern is about one possible method of collection in one of the recycling options. The co-mingled single stream collection where paper is mixed with glass and other materials is the issue.

    The people at Cosmo don't have the cognitive functioning ability to distinguish between broken glass in the paper which may be pulled out safely and what glass would cut them to shreds. Any EA in either of the school systems will tell you that they have the same kind of issues regarding judgment with special needs students.

    If a union raised safety concerns about something that would pose a danger to their workers Pat Lorje would not be asking for more information, she'd make sure that the dangerous material didn't come anywhere near her beloved union workers. She doesn't seem to have the same concern about the health and safety of the disabled.

    I checked with my councillor and he said that Cosmo has asked for only one item, that paper be separated from the other materials on collection (source separated). This is done in lots of cities as the core of their curbside program.

    The people wanting curbside could have it right now just by agreeing to this one procedure. Since they won't, it makes you wonder what their real motivation is in casting Cosmo as the sole villain getting in the way of curbside.

    There is a submission to council on the web site that Cosmo runs which says right in it that curbside collection (source separated) has its support as its second choice.

    That sounds like there is lots of room for compromise being offered by Cosmo. Where is the firm commitment on behalf of the city? The Civic Mistress is right, I sure wouldn't take this crew's assurances to the bank.

    As far as how Cosmo operates, that's not a secret. I've been on United Way tours. Anyone can arrange a tour. That's not even including the supervision given by the provincial social services.

    The facts don't support the attacks on Cosmo. They seem to be designed to get Cosmo out of the way and bring in other people to run recycling.

    I wonder who Pat Lorje would have in mind to replace Cosmo, a big waste disposal company or city workers?

  11. This seems very fishy, who has spider-tinglings?

  12. Hey Anonymous 9:28 pm, whose getting paranoid now?

    My wife is an EA and has had students very happily graduate to Cosmo. She's Cosmo's biggest fan and keeping informed has turned me into one also.

    I notice that instead of checking my sources and trying to refute my arguments you make a snide comment. It's fishy to be thorough and be able to make a good argument? Do your research! I attended a public forum, did you? I called my councillor, did you?

    I laid out the facts and the best you can come up with is spider-tinglings.

    Want another fact? My councillor says that he supports Cosmo but he's voting against curbside because he thinks it's too expensive and doesn't like the fact that places with mandatory curbside end up with more civil servants hired to police the system with measures like fines.

    That sounds like a well considered position and he'll get my vote at the next election.

    In closing, Merry Christmas, I look forward to checking back after the holidays to see if you can do better than your last post.

  13. 600K per year in subsidies to Cosmo, never knew it was that high.

    Could have fooled a lot of people that Cosmo was for a curbside program. They hijacked the public meetings with their over the top antics and they have become the straw man argument of a number of councilors and the mayor, who are against curbside for whatever reasons, for the past half year. The other straw man being their eagerness to throw out false cost numbers left, right, and centre.

    I agree with some on this thread, let's get the real costs on the table - both private run, city run, and with Cosmo involved and not involved. Getting real tired of the city and council telling only half the story!

  14. Cosmo does not get any grants or payments from the City of Saskatoon. Repeat Repeat-Nothing, no grants. Cosmo pays the City half of the profits they make. 1.7 million over the last 10 years or about 175,000 per year.

    Hauling the paper to Cosmo costs the City about 300,000 per year. Maintaining the depots and other costs are another 300,000 per year. That is the 600k quoted by Lorje. Her hypocrisy is endless. She does not credit back what Cosmo shares. She complains the City spends 600k and advocates mandatory curbside that will cost 4-8 million!

    For over 7 years Cosmo has watched the City review and study and public meeting recycling around. You want more studies-more "costs on the table" They have walked a tightrope, not knowing if they will be involved for 7 years and you don think it's natural they took the time to show interest at the public meeting?

    When they finish screwing Cosmo and your costs go through the roof-try to remember your silly straw man analogy.

  15. If you can't pay the workers a fair wage don't run a business.

  16. Cosmo is not a regular business. It is an Activity Centre for the disabled.

    The participants at Cosmo are there because their disabilities are more severe than those at, for example SARCAN who pays minimum wage or better. The requirement for acceptance to Cosmo is the disabled person cannot work and thrive anywhere without support. My sister goes to Cosmo. She has moderate function in one arm only. She cannot walk or toilet herself. She often works in the paper division and has the ability to rip apart about half of one phone book, with that good arm, in a day, but she thinks she is the best phone book recycler in the world. That's the miracle of Cosmo!

    My sister lives in a group home that provides for her shelter, personal care, drug costs, food, her necessities and most importantly; love. She pays nothing. How fortunate we are to live in a society that cares for those less fortunate, as the enlightened believe, in history, we will be judged by what we did for those least capable, not by how many millionaires we created, yet we need the millionaires and strong economies to provide the taxes for social needs.

    In the real world, where would my sister work? In the real world, what is the value of my sister’s work to the GDP?

    The services my sister needs to thrive cost roughly 3,000 per month. My sister can work about 27 hrs a week. At minimum wage that is about 1 thousand per month. With Lorje's and your philosophy my sister would become one of the working poor, likely homeless and would surely suffer. This keeps with Lorje's socialist philosophy that everyone should be the same and in a union. My sister is not the same as you or I. Pat Loje's brand of socialism is nothing new. Winston Churchill stated this type of "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

    Should my sister receive full time minimum wage, with no expenses in her life? Would this be fair or affordable to the tax base? In Saskatchewan the cost to the provincial government would approach 40 million.

    25 years ago the Ebber's commission under the NDP with leadership from Herman Rolfes determined the severely disabled in Saskatchewan would better served with appropriate and additional supports rather than minimum wage and purchase services via these wages. This was and remains a kind humanitarian approach.

    The Province does not fund wages in Activity Centers like Cosmo and it is the job of the Board and Staff at Cosmo to maximize sustainable profits so they can get more into the hands of the disabled and as important pay for recreation and peer association opportunities.

    In BC and Ontario the minimum wage issue was a catalyst in the closure of the activity centres and sheltered workshops because of high costs associated with minimum wage. When governments need to tighten their belts they cut programs that cost the least amount of votes. Most cognitively disabled people don't vote. Now the vast majority of those people in BC and Ontario have no jobs or day programs. Is that what you want here too Anonymous? Easy for you to say close it down but what become of my sister?

  17. Anon9:27
    Thank-you, that is one of the best answers EVER on this forum!

  18. Cosmo should pay workers a minimum wage if they are going to use workers to do their business work.

  19. Oh Brother, let's just goose step forward- shall we. Was that the Nazis or the Communist, can't remember? Myopic focus either way. Screw the individual-it fits my philosophy better. To force minimum wage at Cosmo will lead to the closing of Cosmo and the loss of jobs and activities for the 410 people there.

    When philosophy is more important than the needs of the individual, maybe it’s time to check the philosophy.

  20. It's a shame when greed takes over and robs the handicapped of their jobs and their dignity! They love their jobs and most of them wouldn't fit into the regular working field.They do tremendous work at Cosmo. Pat Lorji we voted for you before, but you let Cosmo, our families and friends at Cosmo down when you voted against them, therefore you will never have our votes again so don't even bother coming to our door when election time comes because we can't be bothered with you !!!! It's too bad your job didn't end in 7 years and then you could get a job picking weeds and picking up the garbage in the ditches for the rest of your life.


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