STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
The Big Island Press Club honored State Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller yesterday for releasing 2,000 documents in the "Peter Boy" Kema case.
DHS director honored over ‘Peter Boy’ records
The Big Island Press Club has honored state Department of Human Services Director Lillian Koller for her courage in releasing about 2,000 pages of documents on the "Peter Boy" Kema case.
Most of the information on missing and abused children was closed to the public until Koller changed the rules of the Department of Human Services early last year.
"Koller's decision was obviously a difficult one," said Patricia Tummons, president of the press club, in a news release. "She had to balance the privacy rights of individuals involved in the Peter Boy case against the public's legitimate interest in knowing the ways in which government agencies responded -- or, in this case, failed to respond -- to the tragic circumstances of Peter Boy's short, harsh life.
"Ultimately, her decision to release the information gave the public important new perspectives on the stalled criminal investigation into Peter Boy's disappearance," she said.
Peter Boy, the Big Island boy who disappeared in 1997 at the age of about 6, was the victim of abuse.
His father, Peter Sr., later told police he left the boy in the care of Aunty Rose Makuakane during a trip to Honolulu in mid-1997 while he looked for a job, but police found no evidence she ever existed.
While Koller was lauded for her actions, the County Council of Kauai and the Honolulu City Council -- "whose actions are an affront to the transparency and openness" of what government agencies should have, the press club said -- shared the dubious Lava Tube award for 2006, the club announced yesterday.
Earlier this year, a circuit judge declared the Honolulu City Council's practice of closed-door communications illegal after a coalition of public-interest groups filed a lawsuit to stop it.
The Kauai County Council shared the award for refusing to provide citizens with the minutes of closed-door executive sessions, even after being ordered to do so by the state Office of Information Practices. The council then sued the OIP over that order.
Lava Tube Dishonorable Mentions also went to:
» The Hawaii State Legislature for "maintaining its own exemption to the state's Sunshine Law, which all other public agencies, boards and commissions in Hawaii must follow."
» The state Department of Transportation for withholding specific traffic records from public view, including the worst intersections for traffic accidents in Hawaii.
» The Hawaii County Council for violating the intent of Hawaii's open-meetings law, namely to protect the public's right to know. The council had postponed a vote on a reorganization plan for what appeared to be two weeks, then after critics left, the council raised the issue and voted for the plan.
The press club has been issuing the awards since 1997.