Republished from our sister Publication The Current Report
Last night, at a delegates meeting for the Professional Peace Officers Association, elected PPOA representative LASD Sergeant Tony Romo read his resignation letter to approximately a hundred members in attendance citing a laundry list of potential corruption and questionable acts and protocols committed by PPOA president and members of the Board.
This morning, Romo sent the same letter to approximately 45% of the members Romo represented.
His email read as follows:
Resignation of your elected labor representative
Effective tomorrow, I am resigning as a PPOA Board Member even though my term is not up until December 2024. I ran for the 612-seat last September hoping to be able to still make a difference for our members in these tough times for public service/law enforcement. This has not been an easy decision and I have weighed all the pros and cons for quite some time.
I have been a Popa board member for several terms and I have known many of you for 10, 20 25+ years. For over 20 years I have been an active PPOA delegate. I have stood up for our members’ rights and have not always agreed but never did we try to silence one another. I have always believed that being involved and in expressing our opinions the will of the majority of the membership would be carried out.
It is my belief, the PPOA Board unfortunately wants to go in different direction that I cannot no longer be a part of. Nearly a year ago, I was told by a BOARD Member who only represents 100+ people out of our 8000 members (there are two others who represent only 50+ members with full voting rights), if you do not like the decisions being made by the PPOA Board why do you stay a part of it?
To me the answer was simple, I wanted to make a difference in helping members. I have always believed that voting and encouraging others to be involved, and staying involved I would make that difference in the association and members’ lives.
I am not and will never be a QUIET leader and all of you that know me, know that. So, as I leave, I want the 612 memberships to know why and I believe you have a right to know.
This Union used to belong to the members of the association, it is now run by a select few with the idea that only they know better. Here are a few of the reasons, I am resigning my 612 Board Seat.
The PPOA Executive Director and PPOA President, refuses to attempt to open our current salary contracts to address hiring difficulties, retention of employees’ issues. It is not something we should hope the Sheriff addresses on his own.
Holding numerous, closed sessions to hide behind, sure there are times to use closed sessions, but when vacant 612 Board appointments are made in secrecy instead of open voting in a transparent manner what are we hiding?
Changing the policy of keeping audio recordings of PPOA Monthly Board Meetings indefinitely to destroying them after the minutes were approved.
The PPOA Board making changes to rules and bylaws to silence members, making it difficult to speak at or be involved or attend Board or Delegate meetings.
Failing to recognize conflicts of interests on the Board and failing to provide adequate defense representation to members. Joining a non-union association (CONTRACT Cities) for a $10,000 membership fee while the current President’s husband was a Captain at the Contract Law Unit.
Hiring a political lobbyist for the Union while there was a conflict of interest. A main partner in the lobbyist firm is the former PPOA President’s uncle. Continuing to retain the Lobbyist firm even after they made disparaging remarks about peace officers when they believed a zoom camera was turned off.
Continuing to try to run a PPOA Insurance Agency has cost the association over $150, 000 in settlements due to bad decisions made by the majority of the board even creating a new separate PPOIA Board.
The Board failed to properly act when former PPOA President Tab Rhodes took a PPOA vehicle out of state and was involved in an auto accident while on a personal vacation.
Authorizing former PPOA President’s Tab Rhodes’ appreciation dinner (retirement party) for $5000 at Ruth’s Chris Restaurant. Meanwhile providing limited help, delaying assistance, refusing to aid members and department members in need because the Association does not have enough money to help.
Allowing Rhodes to be a member of PPOA Insurance Agency Board even after he retired from the department and resigned his PPOA Board seat.
Excessive retirement monetary gifts from PPOA Association Funds .
I have tried and tried again to make a difference on the Board, a few of us have voted against the majority of the Board as they have changed rules, policies and bylaws, motions in order to silence the membership or allowing them to have a voice. I have been censored in my PPOA article in order to keep information away from members. I have been censured by the current PPOA Board in closed session at the direction of the PPOA President. Another 612 Board member and I are constantly blocked from attending Meet and Confer meetings directly affecting issues regarding 612 memberships.
There are many of us who believe we can no longer fix the association from within, not for the lack of trying. So, we are not taking our ball and going home, but we will take our hard-earned monthly dues money and pay it somewhere else. Where we can get adequate legal representation when we need it and not be part of the bad decisions being made by the PPOA Board. The majority of the PPOA Board believes the majority of members do not care and will not get involved in correcting these issues, so I believe they will continue to make the decisions, I have described. All of these reasons and others are why I am resigning.
Members should know the ins and outs of their union, this affects your pay, benefits and working conditions. As always stay informed know your rights and responsibilities.
Romo is in charge of the Sheriff’s Department Explorer Program mentoring young adults in between 14-20 who have an interest in law enforcement as a profession. He is tasked with overseeing training and facilitating hands-on experience that assist young adults in becoming more responsible, compassionate, independent, and self-confident, while serving as a volunteer in their communities.
His collateral, elected position at PPOA involved attending Board meetings where he was silenced from weighing in on critical decisions regarding Union membership and witness to a multitude of improprieties committed by certain Board members.
Current protocols designed to silence and subdue Union members (including Romo) were put in place after former President Tab Rhodes was confronted by Union members for the questionable hiring of his uncle – the owner of lobbying firm.
Rhodes’ uncle, who had no experience in law enforcement, was hired over more qualified applicants. Rhodes’ uncle is still employed by the Union and has been paid approximately $200,000 since December of 2019.
Rhodes was also confronted about his support of 2022 Sheriff’s candidate Eli Vera, which was in direct conflict with Union members support for then Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
As a result of these confrontations, Rhodes resigned. Vice President Nancy Escobedo stepped into the President position and immediately drafted new protocol for meetings – severely limiting membership input and creating parameters designed to silence members.
In an effort to hide improprieties and implementation of questionable protocol, expenditures and more, the Board engaged in additional censorship of Romo.
The most startling revelation was the purchase of a Contract Cities Association membership approved by PPOA for $10,000, raising multiple red flags.
At the time, Escobedo’s husband Sergio was the Captain of the Contract Law Enforcement Bureau and liaison to the LASD contract cities. According to sources, the CCA invited PPOA to many events over the years without requiring membership, making the purchase of the membership an unnecessary use of union funds. However, it was allegedly pushed forward by PPOA benefitting Escobedo’s husband’s position at LASD. Shortly after the purchase of that membership, Escobedo’s husband was promoted to Commander Professional Standards Division, which oversees internal criminal and administrative investigations.
The Union President and her husband’s multiple conflicts of interests was glaringly apparent when incidents of her use of union status to benefit her husband (and others) resulted in Sergio Escobedo’s controversial promotion. This is in direct conflict with the PPOA President’s position as there are members currently involved in those investigations.
This is a developing story.
UPDATE 5:02 PM:
President of PPOA released a statement earlier today regarding Romo’s resignation: