"An incredible, and virtually untapped, resource exists within the city to help make sure that our pollution laws are being complied with. That resource is the citizens themselves," Bierman said in a statement accompanying her announcement of the proposed legislation.
Currently, it falls exclusively to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the city attorney, and the district attorney to enforce S.F.'s Industrial Waste Ordinance. The law, which bans flushing toxics and hazardous wastes into the city's sewers, provides for administrative, civil, and criminal penalties.
Drafted by BayKeeper, the Bierman legislation would allow civilians to go after polluters when the PUC, the city attorney, and the DA elect not to take action. If sued successfully, polluters would be required to pay the "private prosecutor's" costs and attorney's fees, a fixture of federal environmental laws for more than two decades and an incentive to organizations like S.F. BayKeeper.
"The ordinance ... would immediately expand the city's field of investigators to include hundreds of residents and organizations," says Michael Lozeau, the group's executive director. "A tool that empowers residents to take responsibility for keeping our environment healthy [also] empowers the city's staff as well to do more than they otherwise would be able."
Frames Behind the Wire
When Dave Tatsuno shot his color footage of everyday life in the Japanese internment camp that was his home from 1943 to 1945, he was breaking the law -- and making history. Now, more than 50 years later, the National Film Registry is honoring the San Jose octogenarian by including his work in its archive.
His footage, Topaz, was one of 25 works deemed worthy of preservation in 1996 because of its "cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance," joining the ranks of films such as On the Waterfront and Dr. Strangelove. Topaz is one of only two home movies, the other being Abraham Zapruder's footage of the Kennedy assassination, among the Registry's 200 films, according to the Library of Congress, which administers the archive.
Tatsuno was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley when he and his family were interned at Topaz, the Utah "relocation" camp the film is named after. Its 45 minutes of color footage are regarded as the most complete record of life in the camps that housed more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Tatsuno's work, which now resides at the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles, chronicles everyday activities such as gardening and digging irrigation ditches.
Internees were forbidden from having cameras, but Tatsuno arranged for his gear to be smuggled past the camp guards.
"He wasn't doing it to indict. He wasn't doing it to vilify the government," says Stephen Gong, associate director of the University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. "He just saw the importance of recording this as a part of history." The National Film Registry's recognition of Tatsuno's work has received little notice in the local press. It did, however, earn a mention on the S.F.-based Asian-Pacific-American Website, Channel