Anti-China Town

Free trade and Florida

Palm Bay, Florida, Mayor John Mazziotti says he tries to restrict himself to locally made goods. Now he wants taxpayers to do the same, or at least to avoid products from countries he dislikes. In October, Mazziotti became the first American mayor to propose an ordinance prohibiting the municipal government from buying Chinese products.

The measure would bar the city from buying products in which half or more of the parts are manufactured in China, unless the total cost is under $50 or an alternative product would cost 50 percent more. “I think it sends a message,” says the mayor, a proud first-generation Italian American. “Maybe people will have enough sense at least to buy something made in this hemisphere.”

Mazziotti is so pro–Palm Bay, reports a local paper, that he won’t even dine outside the city with friends. He characterizes trade with China as “dealing with the enemy.” In other interviews, he has attributed the ordinance to a recent spate of recalled Chinese products, China’s environmental standards, China’s human rights abuses, and the loss of American manufacturing jobs. The city’s website reads “Buy American,” and city council members have said that they will call on President Bush and the Commerce Department to join the town in restricting foreign trade.

The city council has yet to vote on the measure, and not every local official is on board with Mazziotti’s foray into international trade. As Councilmember Pat Woodward told Florida Today, “We have potholes to fill.”

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