By Scott Thomas
KFVS12 Vice President and General Manager
Have you noticed them? If you travel to Cape Girardeau you probably have. I'm talking about people with hard-to-read signs at busy intersections, asking for money. Sometimes they're alone, sometimes they're with a group of people that resemble a family.
How does it make you feel when you see them? Sad? Annoyed? Helpless? Unfortunately, we know that there are homeless people, truly down on their luck, who need our help. But we also have evidence that often, those asking for money are not authentic. They're either misrepresenting their circumstance, or they simply would rather beg than work.
Some Heartland towns like Sikeston and Carbondale have specific laws against panhandling. Others, like Cape Girardeau, have little or no regulations. And the lack of regulations makes it easy for the panhandlers to panhandle and make it difficult for the police to do anything about it. Those panhandlers can be a distraction for passing motorists, and can tie up busy intersections and cause an accident. They also pose a liability risk for businesses if they should get injured in their parking lots.
Because of this, we think Cape Girardeau should have stricter regulations to prohibit panhandling. If you agree you should let your city councilmen know and hopefully they will do something about it. But instead of just running them off, we should figure out a way to inform them about the many agencies and services available to help. That way if they really are down on their luck, they won't have to panhandle for very long
I'm Scott Thomas, and that's our ViewPoint.