Bill Fisher is the Good Guy, So Why Are We Making Him Pay?

The Morning News slimed the developer who exposed City Hall corruption and threw its support behind a rival.

The worst thing that happens in this town, and it happens on a cyclical basis, is the official Scarlet Letter shunning of some person who did the right thing. It's happening again.

Two real estate outfits in Dallas, Odyssey Residential and Frazier Revitalization, are fighting for the same $20 million-plus pot of federal money. Take a look at what The Dallas Morning News said in a January 17 editorial about one of the people involved in the project — the one they do not want to win.

"A principal figure behind Odyssey is Bill Fisher, who wore a wire to help convict former City Council member Don Hill in a high-profile corruption case. The federal government has a $1 million tax lien against him, which in itself should have served as a red flag during the state review."

Look, for what Fisher did for this city, he deserves the municipal equivalent of the Purple Heart.

In the federal investigation leading up to the 2009 trial of former councilman Hill, now in prison, Fisher put himself in physical harm's way to help the FBI root out an extortion ring deeply rooted inside Dallas City Hall.

The Morning News is mad at Fisher now because the project he is associated with appeared early on to be beating out the other one, which is the brainchild of J. McDonald Williams, a former director of the Morning News.

There is one big difference between Fisher's deal and the one the News likes. Fisher's project obeys the law and promotes desegregation by putting low-income, housing in a medium-income area, near the medical center.

The one the News likes flies in the face of the federal mandate to promote desegregation. It does the opposite. It promotes further concentration of ethnic minority poverty in South Dallas by putting low-income subsidized housing in the middle of more of the same.

Williams' efforts are well intended. He has devoted his retirement to doing something for southern Dallas. I spoke last week with the Reverend Donald R. Parrish of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, a second-generation southern Dallas leader who views the Williams development as a chance to bring a dwindling African-American neighborhood back to life.

I get all that, but there's a hitch. You're not supposed to use money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote greater concentrations of minority poverty. That's called segregation. If you really want to re-create a minority ghetto, even a really nice one, you're not supposed to do it with HUD money.

Before we get off on all that, can we finish about Fisher? I sat through the Hill trial. Let me give you one example of what Fisher went through to help the FBI break the Dallas City Hall extortion ring.

One day during the trial the government plays this undercover tape recording of a meeting between him and three members of the extortion ring including D'Angelo Lee, a member of the Dallas City Plan Commission. The four men are in an apartment somewhere inside the vast rambling Southside on Lamar complex across from Dallas police headquarters.

On the tape you hear all three of the extortionists, especially Lee, getting really tough on Fisher. They're accusing him of wearing a wire. The scary thing? He's wearing multiple wires running an audio tape recorder, a video recorder and a radio transmitter.

Fisher and I spoke last week. I asked him if at that moment in that meeting, when they started to get on him about wearing a recording device, he was physically afraid. He said he wasn't thinking about getting killed at that moment, but he did think he might be in for a beating. Had the three men uncovered his recording equipment, however, his situation could have become truly dire.

It would have been easy for the extortionists to catch him. Fisher at that moment had so much voltage flowing through his suit, he was lucky paper clips didn't start flying across the room and sticking to him.

All of a sudden the City Hall extortionists say on the tape they think Fisher has a recording device in his handbag. Yup. He does. Well, not in his bag. It's actually clipped to the outside of the bag in plain view, disguised as something else.

Fisher shoves the bag across the table and tells them to search it. The bluff works. They don't.

At this point the FBI is parked across the street listening to every word. What they hear sounds bad. Lee especially sounds like he's ready to kick Fisher's ass, but the feds have a problem. They've lost track of where he is in the building.

The agents call Fisher on his cell phone and tell him they have no idea where he is. Fisher answers their call in a very indulgent tone, addressing the caller as "James," his son's name. Says he'll see him at home later.

It works. The extortionists don't suspect anything. These guys are not the sharpest tools in the shed. But, you know: Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes a bad thing.

Then Fisher suddenly feels a need to stretch his legs. He goes over to a window of the apartment — a window that looks down on the FBI van across the street — and takes in the view.

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6 comments
ybabybahs
ybabybahs

Fisher is not a good guy. If you only knew his background and the real reason he went to the FBI for the Hill cases. Once again, you, the Dallas Observer, dont know what you are talking about. You are so blind.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Soooo, it seems that the only thing we hate more than crooked pols are stool-pigeons.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

Call it Maroney"s Mud Ball. The pious Jim Maroney does not like to look bad amongst his peeps.

Marcie
Marcie

Have you ever met him? You'd understand.

JimS
JimS

If some guys are breaking down my front door and I call 911, am I a stool-pigeon?

 
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