It turns out that Annazette Collins, who beat out former mayoral candidate Patricia Watkins for an appointment to the state senate, may not even live in the district she was chosen to represent.
In March, West Side ward committeemen named Collins, a former state representative, to fill the seat vacated by retiring senator Rickey Hendon. But now, Fox Chicago is reporting that Collins’ real address is in Hyde Park:
But while Collins lists a rental unit on Warren Boulevard as her home on campaign and voting records, she’s been collecting that homeowner’s exemption on a condo five miles south of her legislative district. The law requires individuals to live in their homes in order to qualify for the tax break.
Kelley Quinn of the Cook County Assessor’s office said their records show Collins has received $2,300 in property tax breaks for allegedly living in the condo in Hyde Park.
“According to our records, that is where she lives. We don’t have proof of her owning any other property in Cook County,” Quinn said. Collins would have been required to sign a form stating she lives at the Hyde Park address.
Fox Chicago dug up the dirt in the office of that good-government watchdog, Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. That’s only one embarrassing aspect of this situation. Another? The most powerful committeeman on that panel was Secretary of State For Life Jesse White. If anyone should know where a voter lives, it’s Jesse White.
It’s ironic that Berrios’ records are the source of Collins' trouble. Collins got away with having two homes for so long because of the Cook County Democratic Machine that Berrios oversees.
Chicago is a one-party city. If Collins had ever faced a serious Republican challenger, an opposition research team would have turned up her double-addressing. Paid political weasels are always combing through public records for divorce files, drunk driving arrests, tax liens or anything else that can embarrass the enemy. We all say we hate negative campaigning, but it’s better to find out this stuff before the election. Collins is a member in good standing of the Machine, so nobody bothered to check on her … until now.
If Collins is convicted of living outside her district, she could be removed from office. In which case, the committeemen would have to appoint a new senator. May we once again suggest Watkins? I don’t think she can afford two homes.