Sherwood alderman: officials went "behind public's back"

SHERWOOD - A Sherwood alderman is accusing some city officials of participatingin a private meeting behind closed doors to discuss the city's options onelectricity providers.

Last Tuesday Alderman Toni Butler says Mayor Virginia Hillman, thecity attorney, and two city aldermen walked in to the City Clerk's officefollowing a public utilities meeting.

"We've got two Aldermen and we've got a mayor sitting here andthere's no press," said Butler, remembering her thoughts. "[They said] 'Oh wedon't need it.'"

Butler then joined the group in the office and listened as Hillmandiscussed her desire to re-up with the "more expensive" North Little RockElectric, rather than sign with Entergy, like Butler had hoped would happen.

Butler alleges Hillman overlooked a franchise agreement draftedfor North Little Rock Electric that was pre-approved prior to last night'spublic meeting.

"They did not know how the vote was going to go but it was alreadyset up the way they wanted," she adds.

Also discussed, she says, was the necessity for the $470,000promised to Sherwood by North Little Rock Electric if they reached a deal.

"I feel like they went behind the public's back for $470, 000,"said Butler.

Mayor Hillman aggressively dismissed the controversialaccusations.

"Sour grapes," she said of Butler's claims. "You don't get yourway and you get upset I guess."

Butler was one of the three aldermen who voted against keeping theprovider Tuesday. The council ended up voting 5-3 to approve a 20-yearextension with North Little Rock Electric to cover the southern part of townnearest to North Little Rock.

Hillman acknowledges the group met in the city clerk's office butthat it was continuation of the public utilities meeting scheduled for lastTuesday.

"Miss Butler went herself," she said. "If she thought it was sucha problem she should have stood up and said, 'Hey this is illegal.' But it wasn'tillegal."

It would take Hillman to veto last night's vote for Butler to gether wish of an alternate provider.