Friday, March 11, 2016


“I saw weak people, old people and suddenly they were dying. A resident at Riverview went into Munson and they told her she was starving.”
— Priscilla Townsend
When Priscilla Townsend told me this story, I asked her how I should write it — about her heroism or about her anger. She waved her hand dismissively, gently in the air, like Brando, and said, “Oh heavens, please don’t make it about me. Make it about the anger.”
Townsend, 79, is my friend and client. She lives in a pleasant apartment overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. Her anger is not the lip-curling anger of our clownish political candidates; her anger is the soulful kind.
Last June she found out her neighbors — the low-income and the disabled — had no food. Their federal food stamps had been reduced from $150 to $16 per month. An official letter said, “The change is as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill — specifically the heating and utility deductions.”
What the letter didn’t say was that it was only a “paper problem.” There was a simple fix: just file a Form 1040CR-7 showing you got $21 or more in heating credits and you got the $150 monthly food stamps. But who knew?
Who knew? The Snyder Administration knew. Twelve of sixteen states fixed the problem by passing legislation, but not Snyder, under whom Michigan has become a bottom-of-thebarrel state in almost every sense.

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