Your article last week ["King Bong,"


, Dec. 12] troubles me enough to write my first LTE to you after almost 20 years of faithfully reading WWeek. I have known Mr. Stanford for over 15 years. I have been his business partner, co-chief petitioner for two political initiatives and his landlord. During this lengthy relationship I have found Mr. Stanford to be honest, forthcoming, professional and very generous.

If WWeek would have conducted a fair interview they could have found hundreds of people who would have spoken about Mr. Stanford's many good qualities. Instead the article turned out to be an obvious smear campaign against him. Thank god that sometimes even bad publicity is good publicity.

Your article also talks about Kevin Mannix and his ill-intentioned initiative, which would replace the wildly successful Oregon Medical Marijuana Program with a taxpayer-funded program that would provide pharmaceutical, synthetic, markedly ineffective pills to medical marijuana patients instead of the natural, highly effective, inexpensive medicine they now enjoy. Everyone knows Mannix has an agenda and the fact that he is funded by self-proclaimed "sex therapist" Loren Parks is laughable. I mean c'mon, who is this guy kidding?

It would be nice if WWeek would take this important issue seriously. Medical cannabis, hemp and marijuana are all gifts from the greatest plant on the planet. Let's see some positive stories about this issue for a change.

Chris Iverson
Ashland, Ore.


I am writing in response to Nigel Jaquiss' article ["Balance of Power,"


, Dec. 12].

First, when an inquiry regarding prevailing wage rate (PWR) is made, we rely on information provided to us by the business making the request. If 20 percent or less of the work is physical in nature, the work is not subject to PWR laws. Based on the 2003 characterization of the work provided by ABA, our agency provided an appropriate response.

When two former employees filed wage claims, we completed a thorough investigation. It became clear that testing and balancing is not limited to yellow pad and pen work but involves work that is physical in nature including: drilling, hauling equipment and replacing motor carriages. Had Penson more fully described the nature of the work back in 2003, BOLI's response would have been different.

In October Penson was fined $34,283 by Washington state for failing to pay prevailing wages to workers performing THE SAME duties as those in question here. Washington is one of the many states that already defines testing and balancing as subject to PWR laws.

I'd like to suggest a re-framing of this issue. Penson has been characterized as a small-business owner subject to arbitrary and overly harsh treatment by state government. BOLI's mission is to protect employee rights and to advance employment opportunities in Oregon. It is in fulfillment of this mission that when wage claims were filed we conducted an investigation and we concluded that employees had not been properly classified and were therefore owed wages. The ONLY thing Penson is a victim of is his own decision to mischaracterize the nature of the work, not of arbitrary or overreaching state government.

Dan Gardner
Commissioner, Bureau of Labor&Industries

Ed. note: For more, see Murmurs.


[Re: "Kitchen Bitchin',"


, Dec. 12, 2007]: I can't say that I have a lot of sympathy for people who choose not to educate themselves about the cost of student loan re-payment or the realities of finding a good-paying job in their chosen field. Student-loan repayment calculators estimate that a person with $40,000 in loans will need an annual salary of at least $55,000 a year to be able to repay this amount.

This town is full of disgruntled WCI graduates because they have been making these promises for years. When I moved to Portland in 1993, they were telling students how they had placed graduates with the "renowned" Wolfgang Puck. I have no doubt their tactics are akin to those of used-car salesmen, but I cannot fathom how $40k for a 14-month program sounds reasonable. A WCI diploma isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Via wweek.com