Frozen bank account unfairly punishes Ranchos residents

Many thanks for publishing a story about the small, vocal minority of dissenters in Ranchos, Ocean View, who are trying to seize power from the elected board of the HRRMC. It is a sad situation when people who live in a wonderful place cannot get along, but I guess that’s human nature.

But how would one describe the situation where a bank deprives a duly elected board from control over $210,000 that rightfully belongs to a nonprofit corporation with over 1,200 members? Why does the Bank of Hawaii support a system that allows anybody to use that self-generated “evidence” to freeze bank accounts? Is not that system open to abuse?

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This whole fiasco reminds me of the false incoming ballistic missile warning that was erroneously issued by the state, but not corrected for about 40 minutes. It appears that the delay was caused by somebody’s desire to get FEMA’s permission to issue the good news that it was a false alarm. Yet FEMA’s permission was not needed. Inquiring minds would like to know why the public was subjected to unnecessary stress while unnecessary permissions were sought.

We in Ranchos are feeling the same stress. The Bank of Hawaii must know that the duly elected board has control over the HRRMC’s funds. It is in our bylaws and it’s in Hawaiian law. It is also common sense. Yet the bank insists, via a form letter written a month after the accounts were frozen in August, that we must get a court order to get our money back. This could take years. I’m told that a subdivision in Puna has spent many thousands on legal fees fighting a small minority of members attempting a coup, and after three years the accounts are still frozen. Is this just? Think of the stress on the volunteer board members. Who benefits?

Ranchos property owners have signed a petition to the bank and to our elected representatives and to officials to help us undo what the the bank did in an uninformed instant. So far it has been signed by 71 property owners. That may not sound like much, but with only 20 percent of the 3-acre properties developed and the owners of about half of those living elsewhere, it is a significant number that should not be ignored. As you mentioned in your story, the “vocal minority” were unable to get the 25 signatures required for a legal members’ meeting.

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We call on the Bank of Hawaii to do its due diligence and recognize the obvious — the elected board has control over the $210,000 belonging to the HRRMC members. The bank has power and with that comes responsibility. We do not believe that the bank is justified in abdicating that responsibility to the courts. There have been no changes on the board — nobody has died, resigned, moved, or in any way become incapacitated. The bank has no justification for freezing the accounts. You can take that to the bank!

Annie Bosted is a resident of Ocean View.