In some ways, it seems long ago, but May 16, 2018, sticks out in all the political turmoil of the past couple years. I spent much of the day in the hospital with a family member. A town budget vote was coming up and, welcoming a chance to get my mind on something other than where I was, I used some of the downtime to answer questions on Facebook.
David Paull was on Facebook, too, and spent his morning telling people I’m a liar and taunting me. Bright in the morning: “And more Katz bull***! Wow.” Then: “Beg Justin beg.” Later: “Shake it up Katzy now, shake it up Katzy, twist and shout, twist and shout.”
By lunchtime, he was making allegations about my job and the fact that I was on Facebook during the day: “any normal employer would not tolerate the excessive use of ‘punching in and out’ all day to spread your volunteer message.” This has been going on for years, now. Since he became a figure in Tiverton politics, David Paull has earned a reputation for taunting and bullying. That day at the hospital, I just unplugged; it wasn’t any of his business what I was doing.
I could have reversed the question and asked him how he had so much time to spend online, but he’s an EMT/firefighter in Barrington, so I figured he was just off that day. It turns out that he’s been out on paid leave for a couple of years (IOD, “injured on duty”), and he’s used that time not only to go after people he doesn’t like on Facebook, but also to become a player in Tiverton.
Some of his activity has just been an extension of his Facebook behavior. When I was on the town council, he’d spend hours standing in the back, periodically shouting insults to make the atmosphere tense. For a while, he was fond of calling me a “sociopath.” Then, it was “narcissist.” Recently, he’s been sprinkling in “pipsqueak.”
He’s also been organizing. Early in 2019, he filed a frivolous ethics complaint against me and others, which the Ethics Commission dismissed without investigation. He actively promotes the higher-tax budgets at the financial town referendums (FTRs). In May, he started the “Tiverton Independent PAC,” or “TIP,” which is behind the Turn the Tide message, and he’s been working with council members Patricia Hilton and Denise deMedeiros. He was also the star, number-1 signature-collector for the recall election.
David Paull is within his rights to organize, of course, and even to behave as he does, but he’s making Tiverton politics toxic. Maybe he thinks that’s just the way politics is supposed to be done, but it’s not.