Lillian Koller job cut a 'clerical mistake'

Lillian Koller
Lillian Koller
Marcus Oshiro
Marcus Oshiro
Fred Hemmings
Fred Hemmings

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The House is done slicing the budget. Now it's the Senate's turn to number crunch and figure out how to fill the State's budget deficit. On Wednesday, the House draft of the budget will cross over to the Senate.

One proposed cut drawing political fire is the job of Department of Human Services Director, Lillian Koller.

But on Tuesday, KHNL was told it was a clerical mistake that landed her on the chopping block.

She was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine, just last year. So when the House put Koller's job as Department of Human Services Director on the budget chopping block, political fire erupted.

"Obviously you can't operate a department without the director," said Governor Linda Lingle, calling the move a difference in personalities.

"I have to believe that it's just a blatant political move that's just vindictiveness at its worst," said Republican Senator Fred Hemmings.

Hemmings says cutting Koller's position is bizarre.

"I almost think it's a mistake and if it is a mistake, it's irresponsible in itself," he said.

It turns out, it was a mistake, according to Representative Marcus Oshiro, a Democrat.

"The error occurred because of a misdescription. All other directors and deputies are described as deputy and director. But in Ms. Koller's situation, she's described as an appointed official," said Oshiro.

Oshiro says he did not know the appointed official was Koller.

"Basically a misdescription, a clerical error, but no harm no foul, I hope she's okay with that," he said.

"A clerical error is I think a cover up for the personality politics that are presently going on in the Legislature," said Republican Representative Gene Ward.

Koller did not want to comment, choosing instead to let legislators work out her fate.

The Senate will likely fix the mistake when it receives the House draft of the budget.

Representative Oshiro says he sent Koller a letter, apologizing. A spokesperson says Koller won't comment until she receives it.