Mankind was my business.
..............The ghost of Jacob Marley from "A Christmas Carol."
In February 2007 a speaker fell on 4 year old Josiah Wineberger from a second story balcony at the Baywalk Shopping Center in St. Petersburg, Fl., crushing him and fracturing his skull. Doctors said he would never walk again, but, with intense physical therapy, Josiah is not only walking but he's talking like any boy his age.
Melvin Sembler, AO, is our former ambassador to Italy. If you are familar with Ambassador Sembler you know that he and his wife Betty founded and operated Straight, Inc., a national-level, juvenile substance abuse treatment program, for 17 years. The abuse that kids sustainted at Straight, Inc. are a national disgrace and over 40 former clients have commited suicide.
Straight earned $100 million--tax free. But that's peanuts to Ambassador Sembler who makes his real money building and leasing shopping centers. Shopping centers like Baywalk where Josiah Wineberger was nearly killed last year. The Semblers live a life of opulence, traveling from here to there anywhere in the world in their private jet. In 2003 the Semblers held The Mother of all Toga Parties (turn on sound before linking) in Rome when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their Magic Kingdom by inviting all the Who's Who's from St. Petersburg, Washington, DC, Tel Aviv and Rome.
Mel Sembler even convinced the US Congress to buy a $100 million memorial in Rome to honor his greatness.
But while Mel and Betty were eating caviar this Hanukkah, the Wineberger's position worsened. The day after Christmas, an electrical fire sparked in their home and now the fire department has declared it unsafe to live in. Worse still, the home is facing foreclosure.
You might recall that Ambassador Sembler once sued Ray Bradbury for recovery of a medical device, but much to his chagrin, the story made international news. Sembler had thought that Bradbury would cave, we suppose, but Bradbury did not, and the judge finally set a trial date for April 10 - April 21, 2006. The ambassador did not want the trial to go on so he made a motion (and the judge granted it) to postpone it. Why? He decided to take his family on a holiday. He decided to fly his entire family to Israel for the Passover from April 10 to April 20! So we know the Semblers do enjoy their religious retreats.
Mr. Sembler, thousands of kids have been harmed by you at Straight. You have a reputation for sticking it to your fellow citizens in your business dealings. Couldn't you spare a little change to help Josiah Wineberger and his family this holiday. It would not have to be an admission of guilt. Just a gesture to lend a hand to someone hurt at one of your projects.
It's a tradition in my family to watch "A Christmas Carol" each year around this time. We always watch the 1951 movie version starring Alistair Simms. When the third spirit takes Ebenezer Scrooge to his future grave, it chills me to the bone because I just know Charles Dickens is speaking directly to me. I'm old Mel, but you're older. Maybe you and I had better wake up.
Here's a link to the Josiah Wineberger story.