Human services chief gets panel's OK
A Senate panel has recommended another four-year term for Lillian Koller as state director of human services, although some lawmakers had concerns about her management style.
The Senate Human Services Committee voted 5-0 yesterday to recommend Koller for reappointment, but three of the panel's four Democrats voted "with reservations."
Although the committee heard only positive testimony on Koller, senators said several department employees had come to them privately with criticisms of her management style as harsh and overbearing.
Chairwoman Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Kalihi-Liliha) had said many did not want to come forward for fear of retribution.
"For those that did not come forward, I will not diminish the value that they had," Chun Oakland said yesterday. "I think their concerns are legitimate and think we were able to -- maybe in a nonconfrontational way -- express those concerns to the director."
Koller acknowledged her shortcomings and publicly apologized to those she might have offended. She said that even though the criticism did not come up publicly, she was glad to be able to address the concerns that some might have had.
"I think that it's completely legitimate, when a person is hurting, to get an apology, and I don't doubt that there are those who are feeling pain," Koller said. "I've learned from much of that how I can be more effective communicating so that hopefully we won't have to repeat that frustration."
Senators said they were pleased to hear Koller's commitment to work more cooperatively within the department.
Koller's nomination faces a final vote by the full Senate, which is expected to take place Wednesday.