Saturday, September 10, 2011


Thinking of buying a Honda in Honolulu? Read this first

by Larry Geller

I like to know the people I do business with. When I worked for GE in Japan, that meant visiting the executives and research labs of major Japanese companies. Now, it means speaking with farmers who raise the veggies we eat. It means speaking with workers on the strike line outside of Times Supermarket. Consumers have less and less power in this economy, but we can have a collective influence based on the choices we make. I like to learn before I buy.

A close-up aerial photo of the Ka Loko Dam bre...

Aerial view of Ka Loko dam breach

Image via Wikipedia

Now, as to Hondas… you can learn a bit about the Pflueger family from yesterday’s Hawaii Reporter article: Pflueger Defaults on Settlement for Victims of His Ka Loko Dam Breach (Hawaii Reporter, 9/9/2011).

Yes, Jimmy Pflueger is retired from the auto business. But I learned from Malia Zimmerman’s article that there are federal charges against family members still running the business:

While Pflueger’s attorneys say he is short of cash, some believe Pflueger has money hidden away, including the IRS.
He is facing federal charges for tax fraud, in part for allegedly placing $14 million from a California property sale into a Swiss bank account without reporting the transaction to the IRS.
That case is set to go to trial next year. His son Alan, who runs the family business, Pflueger Auto, his accountant and some of his employees are also facing federal charges related to tax fraud.

There’s a back story here. Pflueger’s subpoena of Zimmerman’s notes figured into the passage of Hawaii’s shield law for journalists and bloggers:

As a consultant for ABC's news magazine "20/20," Zimmerman interviewed island residents who said Pflueger had filled in the emergency spillway with dirt. Pflueger has denied filling in the spillway, which some believe might have caused the dam to fail when heavy rain filled up the reservoir.

Zimmerman said her work for ABC was part of her legitimate journalistic role.

If she is compelled to reveal her sources, e-mails, phone records, notes and photographs, Zimmerman would be turned into a witness in the case rather than an objective observer, [attorney Jeff] Portnoy said.

[Star-Bulletin, Pflueger case to test protection of blogs, 5/22/2007]


The Honolulu Advertiser reported that when drafts of the shield bill were initially circulated in August 2007, one sponsor, Rep. Gene Ward (R-Kalama Valley) said he became interested in a shield law after the subpoena of Malia Zimmerman, reporter and editor for the Web site Hawaii Reporter. Zimmerman was subpoenaed by James Pflueger, the owner of a dam that collapsed in March 2006, killing seven people when a 20-foot high wall of water washed down a valley. Pflueger, who was building his defense against lawsuits from the victims’ families, subpoenaed the notes and records from Zimmerman’s investigative reporting following the dam collapse, the AP reported February 1.

[U. Minn School of Journalism bulletin, Hawaii Enacts 36th State Shield Law, Summer 2008]

So we have a shield law now, but no special thanks to Jimmy Pflueger.

Caveat emptor.

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there's always Tony Honda

I always wondered how the Pluegers managed to acquire prime city property at 188 So Beretania St.during the Mayor Harris administration?

fascinating! thanks DN for covering this --

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