Mark your calendars!

Among the autumn rituals in many Portland neighborhoods is the sweeping up of the fallen leaves by the city transportation bureau. It's one of the few things they do that actually help people get around. Mostly they see their mission as making life miserable for people who drive cars.

Back in the day, the sweeping was done with little hoopla. Maybe you got a postcard telling you what days they were coming, so that you could move your car. But nowadays, they have to mail out glossy full-color brochures that cost God knows how much to produce. I'm surprised they're not translated into a dozen languages, including Klingon.

Nowadays the brochure is quick to point out that this service is free, free, free!

For several years there, of course, it wasn't free. Back in the reign of terror of Sam Adams and Randy Leonard, you had to pay, I believe it was $30 a sweep, unless you raked up the leaves yourself. You had to sign something and send it back to City Hall, too, or else they would bill you. Plus, there were leaf monitors who would come around to check if you actually raked like you said you were going to.

We got rid of the leaf fee, and we got rid of Sam and Randy, too. Or at least, so we thought. But then Dud Wheeler brought Creepy Sam back to act as de facto mayor while old Dud is busy counting his money or drinking chardonnay or whatever it is he does. 

We voted Adams down twice. But some dead leaves just won't stay swept.