Straight founder plans the mother of all parties
It's the all-American, Horatio Alger story. Man works in ladies department store. Man falls in love with boss' daughter, marries her, and takes over operations. Mel Sembler expanded the business beyond his father-in-law's wildest dreams and moved to Florida, building shopping centers. And when the people didn't want any more shopping centers he just hired former city commissioners to get his way. He once tried to stick his fellow citizens with a shady swamp land deal. He uses his vast fortune wisely buying political influence and getting himself identified as a great humanitarian helping America's youth deal with drug addiciton at his Straight, Inc. program. Last May federally-funded Straight, under its new name DFAF (Drug Free America Foundation), sponsored an international drug policy summit at Villa Taverna, Mel's Roman villa which boasts the largest gardens in the Italian capital.

This May Melvin Sembler, The Teflon Ambassador, is planning his 50th wedding anniversay at Villa Taverna, and The Saint Petersburg Times has made it front page news. Two years ago when the US Senate was considering Mel Sembler for the ambassadorship to Italy, Sembler had told the senators, "In 1976 Betty and I helped found STRAIGHT . . . Other than our children, nothing was more rewarding than this effort. . . With 12,000 successful graduates . . . It was a gratifying accomplishment." Yes, he did found and operate Straight, and for 17 years The Saint Petersburg Times reported on the abuses of Mel Sembler's Straight gulag for affluent white children and his other activities with headlines like "Straight chief twisted arms", "Coopers Point deal is rotten", "Money buys Bush appointments" and "a persistent foul odor." It would only seem fitting that since the current Times article mentions the DFAF, it reasonably should have said, "Drug Free America Foundation, formerly known as the controversial Straight program." article related story1 related story2