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.

You know: big arm stretch, yawn, 'nuther stretch, up on ballet point, pirouette, small leap, just takin' in that view. That works, too. The agents see him. He completes his day's mission and gets out of the building alive.

Damn! This guy is a real estate developer. He's supposed to deal with titles, complicated finance, zoning law and stuff like that. He's not supposed to be Tommy Lee F'ing Jones.

When I talked to him last week, Fisher was smart and modest about why he did it. He told me that the Dallas City Hall extortionists leaned on him early on to provide some "scholarship money." Fisher smelled something blinky right away.

"It was like they're trying to get me to do something wrong so that they can manipulate me later on," Fisher told me.

He went straight to John Shackelford, a business lawyer. Shackelford sent him to Haynes and Boone for criminal counsel. They told him when something like this brushes up against you, the way you cleanse yourself of it is to take it to the cops. So he did.

The FBI jumped at it. Fisher told me: "They said, 'Look, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for us. We know this has been going on, but no one has ever come forward.'"

Fisher agreed to help, having no idea how protracted or demanding his involvement would become, but he doesn't blame the feds for that. He said he would get to a point with it when it all seemed to be behind him, and then another would-be extortionist would show up with another crooked offer.

"I was done three times," he said. "Then someone would say, 'I know your deal didn't work out, but I got somebody here who can fix it.' Then that goes away, and it would start up again. It was start-stop. It wouldn't go away. It turned out to be way more than I imagined."

Fisher said the whole thing was a major burden on Odyssey, the company he worked for, not just on him, but he and the principals in the firm agreed it had to be done.

"We just thought it was the right thing to do. We have no shot and no one in Dallas has any shot to fairly compete or fairly develop if honest people have to pay extortion payments in Dallas.

"We said, 'We want to develop in Dallas, and we're a Dallas-based company. We're going to have to help.' You can't just report it to the authorities and leave it to them."

I asked him about the federal tax lien that the News mentioned in its editorial. Actually Rudy Bush has done a good job reporting this issue in the paper's news columns. This is about a 1980s passive investment in a movie deal that was also supposed to be a tax shelter.

The people offering the investment knew the IRS would challenge the shelter, Fisher told me, but they were certain they would win. They lost. Fisher's piece was a $250,000 tax bill that is now $750,000 with interest and penalties. He and the IRS have talked.

I don't know. So what? It certainly has nothing at all to do with these real estate deals. Fisher is not a principal in the real estate deals, so the deals would not be exposed to his personal tax liability. And then again, I'm not a tax lawyer, am I? Maybe I should keep my mouth shut.

But here's what I think. The Morning News likes the deal associated with their former director. They don't like Fisher's deal. They want to slime Fisher to help their guy win.

So they reach way over here and pick up the tax lien. Then they bend way over there and pick up his role in the FBI probe, which they know made him unpopular with the political machinery in South Dallas associated with the extortion ring. And they mush all of that into one good mud-ball.

They use all of it to trash Fisher, who absolutely does not deserve it. In doing so they do something even worse. They take a position that is supportive of segregation and extortion.

This cycle in Dallas just goes around and around. Don Hill went to prison believing that everything he did was done with the implicit assent and even the encouragement of the rich white people downtown.

The real tragedy? He was right.

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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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