Sunday, August 26, 2012

(Houston Purge Part 2) This is what democracy looks like! in the CPUSA

By James Thompson
As many people know, I have been “dropped” from membership in the CPUSA. This article will present the exact exchange between me and various characters in the national leadership who have corresponded with me over this issue. It is important for the working class to be well aware of how their party treats their membership. Through education, this author hopes that an informed working class will fight for control of the party that historically has best represented them in this country and around the world.

Here is a letter sent to Sam Webb and Jarvis Tyner as well as a number of party officials requesting an appeal of the decision to “drop” me.

This letter was sent on 7/29/12 at 8:10pm.

Dear Sam and Jarvis –
I would like to appeal the decision by the National Board to “drop” me from membership in the CPUSA. I want to exercise my right under Article VII, Section 6 of the CPUSA constitution to appeal the decision to “drop” me from membership to the National Committee.
This letter is being submitted not just on my behalf, but on behalf of the members of the original Houston club who have discussed it at a club meeting and agreed that I submit it as well. I came to the realization that I have a duty to defend myself as well as the members of our club who have elected me through democratic process to be their club chair.

In the July 8, 2012 e-mail from John Bachtell to me, the party informed me that I have been “dropped from membership.” Here is the exact letter:

“Hi Pat,
We are sending this email after numerous attempts to speak with you in person and by phone, without response.
It is clear your continued actions are incompatible with membership in the Communist Party USA. Therefore, based on a discussion in the National Board you have been dropped from membership.
Please turn over all Party records and finances in your possession to the newly organized and officially recognized Houston club.
If you have any questions about this action please feel free to call me at ……..
John Bachtell
July 8, 2012”

I don’t have the power to hand over the money or anything else without the democratic consent of the club. The original Houston club voted on July 4, 2012 not to hand over the money or anything else to the new club by 9-0.
By this letter I appeal to the National Committee to reverse this decision to drop me. There have been no charges made against me, only that my “continued actions are incompatible with membership in the Communist Party USA.”

What “continued actions?” The national leadership has not asked me to discontinue any actions.

I assert that the CPUSA constitution has been egregiously violated by this letter to me from John Bachtell.

Bachtell’s e-mail letter does not adhere to the provisions of the Party’s Constitution under Article VII (Disciplinary Procedures and Appeals). His e-mail violates Section 1 since I have never been informed of the charges against me. Section 3 was violated in that no charges were made against me to the original Houston club. Also, no trial committee was elected and did not hear charges, or make recommendations. Section 4 was violated in that I was never notified of the charges against me. Section 5 was violated in that there was no trial committee and no votes were taken. Disciplinary measures have not been reported to the original Houston club, i.e. the club of which I am not only a member, but am the duly democratically elected club chair. There has not been an automatic review of my expulsion (let’s not mince words since that is what happened) by any bodies within the CPUSA.
When I heard in mid June that there was a possibility that Bachtell might visit Houston, I sent an email to him (June 13th) inviting him to meet with the Houston Club. I received no reply to my email and heard nothing from the Texas district leadership. My wife and I left for a pre-scheduled weekend getaway in San Antonio on Friday June 29th with a plan to return on Sunday evening July 1st. I had a prearranged conference call scheduled for the evening of July 1st. Monday, July 2nd was a workday for me (and for many others). I had a full schedule of appointments. Bachtell’s first email to me came on Sat., June 30th after he had already arrived in Houston.
Why was it not possible for him to correspond with me to work out his schedule in Houston before he arrived either by e-mail or phone? Am I being “dropped” because I was out of town or at work and could not make a meeting?
Here is the exact sequence of e-mails between John Bachtell and me leading up to the letter dropping me from membership. First you will note my e-mail to John Bachtell inviting him to meet with the whole Houston club issued on June 13. I sent this e-mail because I was hearing rumors that they were coming to Houston. I had not received any official notice from district or national leadership about the visit at this point.

“On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:09 PM, Paul wrote:
Dear John -
We have talked over the phone in the past.
We understand that you are likely to come to Houston in the near future. We certainly would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss our points of common ground as well as differences. Some members have already expressed interest in such a meeting. We want to work together to build maximum unity and resolve differences in a mutually respectful and beneficial manner.
However, we don’t know the details of your visit. Please let us know if you would be available to meet with us and if you need us to make arrangements for a meeting place, etc.
We look forward to welcoming you to Houston.
Peace & solidarity
Pat Thompson
Club Chair, Houston Communist Party”

I received no response to my e-mail until June 30 at which time I was vacationing in San Antonio with my wife. Here is the first response I received from John Bachtell:

“From: John Bachtell
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2012 10:21:50 -0500
To: Paul Subject: Re: Meeting in Houston
Hi Pat,
As you know Juan and I are in Houston. We along with Bernard would like to meet with you while we are here. We propose 7 pm Sunday at the Kim Son restaurant (downtown at 59th and Jefferson)
Please let me know if this is good for you.

I responded with the following e-mail:

On Sat, Jun 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM, wrote:
My wife and I are in San Antonio now. I asked Bernard about the meeting last Sunday at our monthly meeting and he said he didn’t know anything about the meeting with you and Juan.
We will return to Houston tomorrow, however I have scheduled a phone call with a Union brother from NY at the time you propose.
I would be happy to meet with you the next time you are in Houston. Please show us the courtesy of giving us advance notice so that we can gather the whole club together to meet with you. We feel that informing us at the last minute is disrespectful.
Pat ”

John responded to my e-mail at 10:54am on July 1, 2012 with the following e-mail:

“Hi Pat,
Thanks for returning my email. We have also made several attempts to reach you by phone and have left messages to schedule a meeting with you. We have not gotten a response yet.
We would be happy to meet with you anytime and anyplace at your convenience Sunday or Monday until midafternoon when we depart.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
John Bachtell”

As you can see from the sequence of e-mails, Bachtell proposed a meeting with me individually at the end of their visit. Since I had not been given the opportunity to plan this meeting, it was impossible for me to meet with John and Juan at the end of their visit. You can see from my e-mail that I offered to meet with them in the future if they give me the opportunity to plan and schedule a meeting with them. This offer still stands.

I should point out that I have been a loyal member of the CPUSA since 2003. I have written hundreds of articles for the People’s Weekly World and People’s World using the names James Thompson and Paul Hill. I attended the 2005 convention in Chicago as a delegate from Texas and wrote the article covering the convention’s solidarity action with the staff on strike at the Congress Hotel. I have attended party meetings in St. Louis on African American equality. I have attended state conventions in Texas in Austin. I have attended district meetings in El Paso and in Oakland. I participated in the march on Wall Street and marched alongside Jarvis Tyner and Libero della Piana in 2009. In fact, I made up the slogans and hand printed the posters for that march. I attended the march on Washington for Jobs on 10/2/10 and helped Bill Davis and others organize the party presence there. I attended an anti-war march in Washington, DC and marched with the party contingent, distributed PWWs and helped set up the party table and helped clean up. I wrote the first article for the PWW after Hurricane Katrina covering the survivors in Houston. I wrote many articles for the PWW that were printed on the front page including an article on an AFL-CIO action in Little Rock, Arkansas. I wrote many centerpiece articles, including one on waterboarding and one on immigration and detention of undocumented workers. I covered the BP disaster in Texas City in which many workers died. I covered the Essence music festival in Houston and went to an anti-war march in New Orleans where I distributed PWWs and wrote up the event for the paper. I covered two AFL-CIO Martin Luther King day celebrations, one in Houston and one in New Orleans. Most recently, I have launched a campaign to overturn the anti-Communist law in Texas which prohibits Communists from running for public office or holding state government jobs. All of this has been done on a volunteer basis and I have received no remuneration from the party for any of these activities. I have participated in fundraising for Democratic Party candidates for U.S. House of Representatives candidates in Houston and informed Jarvis Tyner and district leadership of this effort. I have participated in the Labor Neighbor program through the AFL-CIO and have been a regular supporter of the Justice for Janitors effort by SEIU in Houston. I have written numerous articles supporting both. I attended the Jobs with Justice conference in Providence, R.I. with Texas district leadership. I attended the Texas state AFL-CIO convention in Corpus Christi when state district leadership could not due to illness. I attended and voted for the endorsement of Single Payer Health Care which was ultimately endorsed by the Texas state AFL-CIO convention in Corpus Christi. I have worked for Democratic Party candidates dating back to George McGovern. I was a delegate to the Texas state Democratic Party convention for Jesse Jackson in 1988. I was a delegate to the Texas state Democratic Party convention in 2004 for Dennis Kucinich. I was a delegate to the Texas state Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth and attended with Texas CPUSA district leadership.
It is not easy living in Houston, home of George H. W. Bush and Tom DeLay (I worked very hard on the AFL-CIO effort to replace Tom DeLay with Democrat Nick Lampson, which was successful). It is even more difficult to organize a CPUSA club here in the deep South. In fact, from 2003 until 2009, there was no Houston club of the CPUSA. I changed that and built a vibrant, thriving club.
Some comrades have asked the question, “Why can’t there be two CPUSA clubs in the fourth largest city in the United States of America?” Our original club recognizes the right of the new club to form and we wish it every success in building the party. On the other hand, the new club and the national leadership have attempted to impose the dissolution of our original club on us. Our club is perplexed by these maneuvers and we don’t understand how dropping my membership and dissolving our club will help build the party and how this will help build working class power.
We are requesting clarification and are appealing the decision to “drop” me from membership in the CPUSA.
 I am requesting that copies of this letter be distributed to all members of the national committee as well as the national board.
Peace & solidarity
James Thompson
Club Chair, Houston Communist Party

To my knowledge, the CPUSA leadership ignored my request that my letter be distributed to all the members of the National Committee. Instead, they sent this letter to the National Committee:
“To: National Committee
From: National Board
Dear comrades,
Many of you are aware we have been dealing with a destructive factional situation in the Houston club for the past several years. National and district leaders have made many attempts to resolve this situation to no avail.
The club leader, Pat Thompson, had established a website which consistently carried out anti-Party attacks on our democratically arrived at policy, national convention decisions and personal attacks on our leaders.
We had repeatedly asked Thompson to cease the public attacks and remove anti-Party material from the website. Because he refused to comply, the CPUSA issued a statement late last year which publicly disassociated the Party from the website.
Thompson had also reposted numerous articles from the Marxism-Leninism Today website, another source of anti-party attacks generated by former members.
Additionally, Thompson invited a former leader of the CPUSA to a club meeting with the expressed purpose of aligning the club with an opposition network and, failing to change Party policy, to form a new communist party.
This May we received a communication from members of the club seeking intervention. They explained they were not in agreement with the attacks on the Party and had been waging a struggle against the factionalism. They had hoped to solve the problem internally but this proved not possible. The factional activity led to a paralysis of the club and the acrimony drove away members.
The National Board with the agreement of the TX district leadership, asked John Bachtell and Juan Lopez to visit Houston at the end of June with the purpose of responding to the request for help, including establishing a new party club if necessary and meeting with as many members, new and old, as possible.
John and Juan made repeated efforts to meet with Thompson, but were rebuffed. They concluded Thompson was unwilling to meet.
They held numerous meetings with members and friends and assisted in the establishment of a new club of comrades who support the party policy and seek to be integrated into the national and state organization. As it turned out over 70% of the membership supported this direction.
Since its establishment the new club has fully immersed itself in activity, including the rolling janitor’s strike turning Houston upside down, built a website and Facebook page, begun fundraising and building a treasury, written several articles for the People’s World, sought to renew its mass ties and continued outreach to new members.
On July 5, Juan and John reported the results of their visit to the National Board. The NB decided to officially recognize the new club as the sole representative of the Communist Party in Houston and drop Pat Thompson from Party membership for his egregious acts of factionalism in open violation of the CPUSA constitution.
The NB informed Thompson of this in a letter. Thompson appealed the decision on the basis that he had not been informed of the charges and asked for a hearing. Meanwhile, the website he operates that claims to speak for the Communist Party of Houston continued to attack Party policy and leaders.
The National Board, with the agreement of the Texas District leadership adopted the following;
To allow someone so openly and clearly anti-party to exploit the democratic provisions in our constitution to continue to attack the Party and embroil us in a prolonged internal dispute is not in the interests of the Party.
Given Thompson’s history, proceedings would no doubt be trumpeted widely on the Internet and social media. To publicly engage the Party in a fight that will consume vast amounts of time and energy would only serve his interests and anti-Party factional elements around him.
 Therefore, on August 2 the National Board rejected Thompson’s appeal.”

John Bachtell “just followed orders” when he sent a letter to me on 8/9/12 rejecting my appeal of the decision to “drop me”:

Hi Pat,
We received your appeal of the July 5 decision to drop you from membership in the Communist Party USA for egregious acts of factionalism in violation of the CPUSA constitution.
Even after your appeal, the website that you operate, which claims to speak for the Communist Party of Houston, continues to attack Party policy and leaders.
To allow anyone so openly and clearly anti-party to exploit the democratic provisions in our constitution to continue to attack the Party and embroil us in a prolonged internal dispute is not in our interests.
On August 2, the National Board, vested according to the CPUSA constitution with the authority to act for the good and welfare of the entire Party, rejected your appeal.
National Board

Comrades, brothers and sisters, people of the working class:
It is time that we stand up for our interests and fight for a better world, not for better imperialism. Don’t sit at home, do nothing and “just follow orders”. It is time for working people to fight for their party, the CPUSA.
Although I have been expelled from the party, I still consider myself to be a member of the party. I am just one person. The people on the National Board seem to have been elevated to a superior position as compared with the National Committee and certainly the National Convention. The National Board is made up of just a few people. If you add the entire National Board and myself together it does not make up even a recognizable fraction of the working people in the USA. It is time for working people to step up to the plate and demand respect for the membership of our party and demand respect for the working people from our party, the CPUSA.
Furthermore, the Houston club (original) rejects its expulsion and attempt at dissolution by the national leadership of the CPUSA. It rejects the expulsion of its duly democratically elected chair. It demands that the leadership of the CPUSA stop its unconstitutional activity and return to the proud tradition of the party in opposing imperialism and anti-working class activities in all its forms. We must fight for the working class, not against it.

Comrades, brothers and sisters, people of the working class:
Don’t tell yourselves, “it can’t happen here.” If it can happen in Houston, it can happen anywhere.
Stand up for your rights! Unite and fight for a better world through socialism and democracy! “Don’t cling so hard to your possessions, because you’ve got nothing if you’ve got no rights!”

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