Who's the real drain on society: Poor mothers or privileged hardheads?

Posted: May 23, 2012

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The poor get no love from the Corbett administration.

Just look at the governor’s proposed budget cuts. Come July, life is bound to get even rougher for poor, disabled, and disenfranchised Pennsylvanians.

Surely compassion must be on the chopping block, too. How can we forget Corbett’s “close your eyes,” the cruelty of making women get a fetal ultrasound exam before they can get an abortion?

Seems the governor is trying a spend-down strategy to justify his scorched-earth slashing. To struggling school districts, regarding their (nonexistent) surpluses, the command comes down: “Spend down!” To prospective food-stamp recipients, regarding their hard-earned savings (suddenly liabilities, thanks to the administration’s new assets test), the call goes out: “Spend down!”

I guess you have to hit rock-bottom to be worthy. Otherwise, you’re ripping off the system.

Which brings us to the case(s) of one Georgina Zogby.

Zogby’s recent shenanigans have got me wondering what would happen if we followed her lead and walked out of the local Wegmans with $954.66 worth of merchandise without even paying for it.

What would happen if, like her, you or I also hit the nearest TJ Maxx and shoplifted instead of window-shopped?

Or what if, on yet another occasion, we arrived at the courthouse to give a plea in not one, but two, DUI cases and acknowledged TV cameras with a flip of a middle finger?

I can just about guess where that kind of belligerence would land most of us. And I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve got ironclad connections in Harrisburg, as Zogby does. Seems like the 48-year-old wife of state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby can get away with that kind of stuff.

Hmm. And folks accuse food-stamp recipients of ripping off taxpayers.

I’m just sayin’.

Personal entitlement program

By all indications the Mechanicsburg resident had been a model citizen: Wife, mother of three, an appointee to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape by former first lady Michele Ridge.

But over the last two years, the woman’s been a wrecking crew in a Volvo SUV.

Last week, a Cumberland County judge gave Zogby a community-service slap on the wrist for two shoplifting offenses — one at Wegmans last May, the other at TJ Maxx in November 2010.

I’m not about to make light of the DUI charges. They’re truly serious.

But I just can’t get my mind off that Wegmans grocery bill. $954.44? Really?

Look, I know how easy it is to lose your mind and money at Wegmans, which is why I avoid shopping there. Those $100 cheese wheels are just too tempting. But for Zogby simply to push a cart full of merchandise — including three chaise longues valued at $200 each — out of the store without paying tells you something about her nerve, or sense of entitlement, or both.

When detained by the store manager (whose eagle eye must have spotted that moving stack of chaise longues), she lied, telling him she had already paid for the items in Lane 6. Problem was, Lane 6 was closed — and Zogby couldn’t produce a receipt.

Push with privilege — that seems to be Zogby’s M.O. She did the same thing at TJ Maxx, lifting $248 worth of merchandise.

Call it her own personal entitlement program.

The thefts would be funny if not for the two DUIs, which suggest she needs serious help — help she isn’t getting from a cocoon of enablers, including her husband, her lawyers, and her judges, plus the four different rehab facilities she’s been in and out of.

Zogby was charged with drunken driving last summer. She tried to elude police officers by taking them on a medium-speed chase, doing 50 m.p.h. down the roads of Monroe Township, Cumberland County. According to police reports, she weaved into oncoming traffic, drove through stop signs, and turned left out of the right-turn lane, “showing a careless disregard for safety.”

When two cop cars finally chased her down, she had the nerve to refuse to get out of her car. Officers had to “tactically remove her,” whatever that means. (I’m guessing it wasn’t the kind of tactical removal cops used on Rodney King.)

Last September, she crashed her BMW near her home while driving with a suspended license. She has pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing in July.

We can only hope, for the safety of those around her, that Zogby is never again allowed behind the wheel. When we talk about drains on society, we should be talking not about struggling mothers trying to feed their children, but about hardheads like the privileged, wayward wife of the state’s budget secretary, who refuses to learn her lesson.

Contact Annette John-Hall at 215-854-4986, Ajohnhall@phillynews.com or on Twitter @Annettejh

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