If you have a question, e-mail email@example.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"
Q: Are large commercial vehicles allowed to stay parked in a residential area for an undetermined amount of days? If not, what is the proper complaint process?
A: "Vehicles over 24,000 lbs., or over 20 feet long, are allowed to park for no more than one hour between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on any street in the city, unless the vehicle is loading or unloading," said Tracey Glenn, public information officer for the city of Cape Girardeau. "Additionally, vehicles over 24,000 lbs. are required to drive on designated truck routes, unless going directly to a specific address for a delivery. A person may contact the Cape Girardeau Police Department at 335-6621 to make a complaint regarding a violation."
Q: Is it true that local retailers are illegally charging sales tax when you buy a newspaper over the counter (rather than from a machine)? It has always been my understanding that newspapers are sales tax exempt.
A: "Retailers are correct to charge for sales tax on newspapers just like any other item purchased inside their stores," said Mark Kneer, circulation director for the Southeast Missourian.
"Newspapers do pay sales tax on our subscriptions and retail sales just like other businesses," he explained. "I think the real question is why does a newspaper cost 50 cents daily and $1.50 for Sunday at a news rack as opposed to pennies more for sales tax when purchased inside a retailer. The reason for that is our machines can only handle certain coin combinations and we are unable to set the price with the sales tax included. So the Southeast Missourian actually pays the tax for the reader when newspapers are purchased through our newsstands."
Q: Is it true that a major soda company is coming out with a new can that has the Pledge of Allegiance on it without "under God"?
A: No, this is not true. Certain groups making this argument have urged the boycott of certain soft drink companies, but there is no truth to the claims. Of course, this has not stopped people from forwarding false information on the Internet. The rumor started after Sept. 11, 2001, when Dr. Pepper produced a limited-edition can with a patriotic design and the three words: "One nation ... Indivisible." Since then, the two major soft drink companies have found themselves the target of inaccurate rumor campaigns, which seem to be recycling via e-mail again.
Q: Is it true that there is a grassroots movement in Cape to solve the Water Street traffic issue by eliminating all cars and reserving it solely for pedestrians?
A: You are referring to the city's deliberation of making Water Street one-way north or one-way south, a change which is necessitated by plans to widen the sidewalk and add interpretative panels for the new mural. No, I am not aware of any movement to eliminate auto traffic on this street. And if there is one, it is awfully quiet.
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com.