By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
There is every indication that Bill Simpson is inside his closet-like office on this steamy July afternoon, shortly before 3 o'clock. Simpson had just left a message with a reporter, indicating that he was back from an appointment and could be reached at his office, which is located in a humdrum building at 11551 Forest Central Lane.
Simpson's shiny white Ford Explorer, license plate number WSL-76F, is in the parking lot. The smiling receptionist inside Suite 109 says she's pretty sure Simpson is in, behind a closed wooden door inside this cramped suite.
"Is he expecting you?" the woman asks. She casts a suspicious glance at the unexpected visitor, then disappears behind the wooden door. Hushed conversation can be heard. The woman soon reappears, shaking her head.
She must have been mistaken, she says. Simpson really isn't here after all. "That's one of his office helpers," she says, explaining who she was talking to inside Simpson's office. "Can I take a message?"
Bill Simpson, it seems, is hiding.
William Raymond Simpson, born on February 11, 1963, doesn't want anyone--especially a reporter--in his office.
William Raymond Simpson, who resides at 4630 Travis Street #410 and votes regularly, doesn't want anyone to know where his office is located.
William Raymond Simpson, who holds Social Security number 465/17/0579 and is five foot ten, about 185 pounds, has brown eyes, thinning black hair, has never been married, and prefers a lime in his water, doesn't want anyone to know anything about him at all.
That, apparently, is why he began hiding from a reporter who wanted to ask him questions about things like his background, the inconsistencies on his resume, and his drunk driving conviction.
But many people in Dallas certainly know of Bill Simpson. They've seen him on the news or read about him in the paper. He's the guy who videotapes the license plate numbers of cars parked at the strip clubs clustered along Northwest Highway.
He's the guy who uses drivers license records, which are public information, to trace the plate numbers back to the cars' owners. He then finds out where the car owners live and sends a letter to their homes, snitching them out for having visited a Sexually Oriented Business, or SOB, as Simpson calls them.
When he isn't busy trying to instill paranoia among topless bar patrons, Simpson can be found fomenting a public stink about school-age children getting condoms, fighting the distribution of adult newspapers, or denouncing gays and lesbians who want to get married, kiss in public, or engage in other "perverted" behavior.
Other days, Simpson spends his time poring over voter registration lists or searching criminal and civil court records for skeletons in the closets of his enemies. The tenacious tipster then burns up his phone and fax lines, sending the fruits of his labor to reporters.
A one-man public relations machine, Simpson is surprisingly successful. Last month alone, his boyish mug flashed on the television news at least twice in one week, and his name continues to appear in the pages of local newspapers.
Like those mysterious lights that appeared over Arizona a while back, Simpson burst onto the Dallas political scene two years ago from out of nowhere, and made himself the talk of the town.
He did it by creating the North Texas Leadership Council in 1995, and using it to force his way into the public arena. The council, he says, is designed to unite local conservative leaders behind political causes. Since founding NTLC, Simpson has woven an intricate web of political and media contacts, who arrive by the dozens for Simpson's monthly community meetings.
Today, Simpson describes himself as a surrogate father of Big D. He's a self-styled civic crusader who has appointed himself guardian of the city's morals.
Simpson's supporters, who include Dallas city council members, county commissioners, school board members, and a growing number of neighborhood activists, praise him. They say he is a pleasant and honest man who is endowed with an unlimited supply of energy.
But the public knows little if anything about Simpson, personally. And while Simpson will search every computer database and public record he can find looking for dirt on other people, he grows strangely silent when the questions are aimed at him. His private life, his family, his income, his hobbies, are none of anybody's business. That information, he says, is not relevant.
So just who is William Raymond Simpson, who holds Texas drivers license number 09427655 and can be reached at (214) 341-0900? The answer to that question is simple.
Bill Simpson is nobody.
But he's trying very hard to convince you otherwise.
Bill Simpson has one truly unique talent, and it provides a small glimpse into why he's been so successful establishing himself as the city's most visible gadfly. Simpson can remember the telephone numbers of his friends and neighbors dating back to the third grade.
Without the slightest need to rack his memory, Simpson begins rattling off names and corresponding numbers during a recent lunch at the Ali Baba Cafe on lower Greenville Avenue. A man who lives by the telephone, Simpson can also recite the phone numbers of his political allies--the closest of whom populate the far right wing of the local Republican party.