Grover Beach mayor accused of hiding assets

October 27, 2016
Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals

Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals


A local activist has filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission alleging that Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals for years has failed to report personal financial interests, in violation of state law.

Just two months ago, the FPPC fined Shoals more than $1,000 for violating campaign finance reporting rules in regard to his 2014 run for mayor. Shoals is currently campaigning to retain his mayoral seat.

Activist Julie Tacker filed the complaint on Tuesday, two weeks in advance of election day. Tacker claims Shoals routinely filed economic interest statements late, or not at all, and concealed a property he owns in Santa Maria, as well as LLCs he controls.

“As a 14-year veteran of local politics, who works daily with other elected officials, Shoals should be held to a higher standard,” Tacker said in a statement to the media. “Instead, his behavior indicates that the rules don’t apply to him. I brought this forward now because I believe voters should be informed before they choose their next mayor.”

Political office holders in California must file statements of economic interest, or Form 700s, when they begin and end their service, as well as on an annual basis. Tacker’s complaint alleges Shoals committed 259 separate violations of the Political Reform Act, all of which pertain to Form 700.

Shoals failed to file 11 forms, and he filed 16 forms late, according to the complaint. One form was filed about two and a half years late.

In several instances, Shoals failed to report property he owns at 410 West Street in Santa Maria. Likewise, on several occasion, Shoals failed to disclose his involvement with West Street Partners, LLC and Santa Maria West Street, LLC. The latter LLC is registered as being a real estate development business.

Julie Tacker

Julie Tacker

Tacker states in the complaint that the crossover of government and professional roles in Shoals’ 30-year career, coupled with his other economic interests and failure to disclose his finances, raises questions about potential conflicts of interest.

“It is reasonably foreseeable that Mayor Shoals in his capacity as a board member of 17 different agencies would be in a position to financially affect the outcome of decisions related to undisclosed property and limited liability corporations,” Tacker wrote. “It is reasonably foreseeable that there could be financial effect from decisions made as a board member of each of the agency boards he served and serves on related to his undisclosed real estate holdings and LLCs.”

Shoals has been involved in local government for years both professionally and as an elected representative. In addition to serving as mayor, Shoals currently works as a government relations representative for PG&E. He previously served on the Grover Beach City Council for 10 years, including two terms as the city’s directly elected mayor.

His previous professional work included stints as a city planner in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Santa Maria. Shoals also started JP Shoals Associates, which he said provides planning services to local agencies and project management services to private landowners.

Shoals’ positions with the city of Grover Beach and PG&E have landed him seats on numerous local and regional boards, as well as involvement with the California League of Cities. Some of Shoals’ positions include involvement with the city of Santa Maria.

Shoals’ 2014 mayoral campaign was the subject of an FPPC complaint filed earlier this year by activist Kevin Rice. Rice’s complaint alleged Shoals improperly reported more than half of the $20,712 he raised in total contributions during the 2014 campaign.

On Aug. 18, the FPPC ruled Shoals failed to submit five 24-hour reports for contributions to his 2014 mayoral campaign that exceeded $1,000 each. California law requires candidates to file reports within 24 hours when they receive contributions of $1,000 or more within 90 days of an election. The FPPC fined Shoals $1,101, but said it found no evidence of intent to conceal contributions.

Rice alleged Shoals’ failure to disclose his campaign finances swayed the outcome of the 2014 election, in which Shoals defeated then-incumbent Grover Beach mayor Debbie Peterson.

This year, Peterson is running for a city council seat. Shoals is now running against Ronald Arnoldsen, who is also a former Grover Beach mayor and councilman.

In her complaint to the FPPC, Tacker asks the state agency to take enforcement action against Shoals in a manner “so that all other existing and future public officials within San Luis Obispo County may take notice.”

Shoals did not respond to a request for comment about Tacker’s complaint.

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Shoals has cancelled the Sanitation District meeting that was scheduled for Wed. Nov. 2., — guess he didn’t want to hear from the public before the election.

Interesting, as the Grover Beach City Council meeting was also canceled just days before the election–too hot in the kitchen??!!??–always deflecting when answers needed the most…

Ricky, read the article and verify the complaint. He sits on state and regional boards that have jurisdiction in Santa Maria. You owe Julie an apology.

More likely he can’t face the music of this Fair Political Practices Complaint! I bet Counsel suggested the meeting be canceled! Kinda like when he was caught sexually harrassing female staff members and couldn’t face attending interviews prior to the 2008 election!

Concerned Citizens for Grover Beach have been trying to get ALL of the information out over all these years–the good, the bad AND the ugly– about Political Favor Mayor John Shoals and those that colluded to keep him in power for his entire time on the Grover Beach City Council, both as councilmember and mayor.

Remember when Shoals and then councilmember/mayor Steve Lieberman (Now the Five Cities Fire Authority Chief??!!??) engaged in shenanigans that eliminated then councilmember Chuck Ashton’s rightful turn as mayor and they then got multiple turns as mayor usurping the normal course of long-established protocols??!!?? These two men colluded then to maintain power and control at all costs…and that is just a mere drop in the bucket of the now ensconsed Cartel of Power and how Shoals managed to stay in power and control and keep it that way–with the assistance of the City Manager and especially the City Attorney–for many, many years…and continuing…

Sorry Julie, but you don’t have a case about his failure to file Santa Maria property interests on his Grover Beach financial statements. The law is quite clear: financial holdings that are outside one’s jurisdiction for decision-making don’t have to be listed, only those that might affect decisions where you hold office. He could own all of Goldman Sachs and it wouldn’t have to be disclosed on his Grover filings. That’s the law, like it or not.

Hey, this smoke without fire comes out 14 days before the election. You don’t suppose … ?

So your assuming a real estate development business based in Santa Maria doesn’t do any business anywhere else but in Santa Maria? Not likely. If Mr. Shoals owned all of Goldman Sachs and it did business with any entity involved with Grover Beach he would have to disclose it.

It would be really helpful to have a copy of the complaint – Julie, CCN can you post a copy or a link to it? Seems to me that would be important reading for Grover voters before they go to the polls.

John Shoals is crooked and this has been obvious for a long time.

He is a LOBBYIST for PG&E. How is not a conflict of interest for Shoals to be a Lobbyist for P&E while also representing the City of Grover City?

For example, every city but one in SLO County has formed a consortium to lobby the Public Utilities Commission in order to ensure local communities aren’t severely impacted by the closure of Diablo Canyon. The one city not participating? Grover Beach, where PG&E lobbyist John Shoals is Mayor.

The Political Favor Mayor John Shoals needs to be OUT of the Cartel of Power that has been established in our county, hurting innocent citizens who don’t know “how it works” in local politics, and doing so much damage to citizens, facilitated through being the Mayor and especially his employment and political “connections”. But he doesn’t act alone–he needs all the currently seated councilmembers who are SUPPOSED to represent ALL citizens, city staff on all levels, and most importantly particular officers of the Grover Beach Police Department to be on board with all of his shenanigans that he has perpetrated over all these years. Violations of the Brown Act, non-enforcement of building codes to favor property management companies’ illegal profits while exploiting innocent residents, HOA’s, real estate agents in good standing, Like The Tribune’s “endorsement” of this Political Favor Mayor–who are The Tribune’s NO. 1 advertisers?? The Real Estate and Development community–hmmm??–all working together to promote themselves and their pocketbooks using their positions of power and influence–an innocent, unknowing citizen does NOT have a chance against this Cartal of Power–caveat emptor–let the buyer beware!!! There is NO legal oversight nor any level of accountability for his actions because that’s the way our system works.

Please remember, citizens–he is taking our hard-earned money due to his political favors, draining our General Fund. His campaign brochure is wrought with inaccuracies. Most importantly, Mayor Shoals takes OUR hard-earned money for his “vision” of how he wants it to be…we are Bonded to the tune of $47 million for 20 years, Shoals’ “vision” will take another $6.5 million (which us citizens will pay for over 9-10 ten years, wiping out literally all profit to the City of Grover Beach) in violation of state contract law, to fund the infrastructure of the Beachfront Lodge which the developer should be required to pay for (another back-door deal AFTER approval). The City of Grover Beach despeately needs representation in the form of Ron Arnoldsen, who does not owe anybody anything and will do what’s right for the citizens, who was on the council when substantial street repair moneys were taken right off the top of the budget, and who will also return his Mayoral stipend directly back to the General Fund–The Time Is Now to Remove These Corrupt Politicians From The Position of Abuse of Power!!!

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Have you seen enough?

It is becoming very clear that politician John Shoals lacks the necessary integrity to serve as an elected official, and voters should deny him another term as Grover Beach mayor.

Confucius said that, if a man’s character is not evident to you, look to his associates. John Shoals is a political buddy of people like Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson, Caren Ray, Kristian Barneich, Jamie Irons, etc. Get it? This is a man who is not qualified to lead, and his failure to disclose his economic interests deserves scrutiny by prosecutors.

Vote on Tuesday, November 8th.

Just saying,


“Shoals is a political buddy of people like Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson, Caren Ray, Kristian Barneich, Jamie Irons, etc.” Well, Shoals, like all those people, got elected to public office. Are you saying the voters are idiots, and that you, like Trump, know better than they and that elections squarely won because of such idiot voters voting are rigged? That’s weird, Josey.

Many criminals get elected, not sure what your trying to say but just because a criminal gets elected doesn’t mean the voters are idiots.

This guy has a job waiting for him at Apple.

I hope he gets a job in Prison.

Question for the Community:

Why is it that we have to rely on a private citizen to hold our local Government Officials accountable while the “watch dog” local media is out to lunch and in come cases in the pockets of the very politicians they should be scrutinizing?

Yesterday on the Dave Congalton Show I listened in stunned amazement as a local candidate for the Mayor of AG complained about Julie Tacker costing local Governments money with her public records requests. As if to say, sit down, shut up and let us in Government tell you what you need to know. The AG Mayoral Candidates comment illustrated the height of arrogance and embodied everything that is wrong with Government today.

I would like to publicly thank Julie Tacker for doing what the local Media should be doing, holding our local Government officials accountable to the people they claim to represent.

Thanks Julie

Rich, my feelings exactly. Those local watchdogs are constantly being verbally beat up. If government was being run cleanly, watchdogs would have nothing to search. I, too, would like to give my thanks.

funny that you referenced that public attack by Richard Waller against a citizen who has every right to speak her mind and make any records requests she would like. He threw out some outrageous dollar amount that HE states is costing the County by making her public records requests (I’d love to know who added that up for him!). If he thinks he can conduct himself like this if he is elected Mayor, I send my sympathies to the City of Arroyo Grande.

SLOBodan, your sympathies are acknowledged, I will cast my vote for Jim Hill for Mayor of Arroyo Grande,Waller is a loose cannon we do not need.

Julie is very special. In one example, she saved the property owners of an onerous tax promoted by the Board of the Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA) on an issue approved by the Councils of AG, Grover and the Board of the Oceano District.

The issue was turned down by a 60+% margin by the citizens. It would not have happened except for her exceptional intervention.

To learn that Waller criticized Julie also confirms his irrelevance in claiming the present Mayor JIM Hill is uncivil. People in AG should reelect Mayor Jim Hill and elect LeAnn Akins and John Mack to the AG city Council. These are sensible people who will not sensible things for AG. Waller will not — as proven by his non sensible claims.

Julie is very special. In one example, she saved the property owners of an onerous tax promoted by the Board of the Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA) on an issue approved by the Councils of AG, Grover and the Board of the Oceano District.

The issue was turned down by a 60+% margin by the citizens. It would not have happened except for her exceptional intervention.

To learn that Waller criticized Julie also confirms his irrelevance in claiming the present Mayor JIM Hill is uncivil. People in AG should reelect Mayor Jim Hill and elect LeAnn Akins and John Mack to the AG city Council. These are sensible people who will do sensible things for AG. Waller will not — as proven by his non sensible claims.

The FCFA tax “was turned down by a 60+% margin by the citizens” wasn’t this even after government owned properties got to vote on it, by people clearly to benefit from the tax?

Rich, you are so right. If there are people that attack Julie Tacker, it is because that are doing something that they don’t want the public to know. It is rather disheartening that we have politicians that are dishonest, doing favors, with little or no accountability. I for one give want to thank Julie Tacker for the service she is providing for the citizens.

Mr. Waller’s statement of Dave Congalton Show that Julie Tacker was costing local Governments

money with her public records requests showed his does not believe in accountability and he is arrogant to think that transparency shouldn’t be a top priority for all. I also think the negative comments of Mr. Hill being uncivil, has to do more with his firm belief in having the Arroyo Grande City Council be accountable, and addressing issues that have been presented to him by the residents…favoritism, etc.

Mr. Waller and certain AG City Council members wonder why the residents are tenacious on certain issues, because something is not right, and we know it. And it needs to change…Mr. Waller clearly show me that he is not interested in what is right for Arroyo Grande.

Keep up the great work Julie!

Rich in MB–citizens of Grover Beach over many, many years on a wide variety of issues have gone to the Grover Beach Police Department, Building and Planning Department, City Managers, City Attorneys, to file complaints of fraud, stolen moneys by local businesses, known drug dens, violations of many laws and ordinances, just a few of the problems innocent citizens have experienced, the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office, Office of the Attorney General, Grand Jury, FBI, Department of Real Estate, our state elected officials all the way up to the Capitol, Division of State Architect, State Bar Association, Bureau of Real Estate, Local Real Estate Board (The local real estate board was initially set up to help fraud re Kelly Gearheart, Hurst Financial, whose companies stole millions of dollars from local residents–CCN tried to get DA to investigate for two years while millions of dollars stolen!!), local news agencies to investigate and uncover local corruption–who have repeatedly failed to do proper invesigative reporting, relying on “press releases” from City Manager Bob Perrault and Shoals himself, literally every agency in the state to stop this insanity of corruption.

In a letter I received from now sitting Judge Craig van Rooyen, then Deputy District Attorney, he said, and I quote, “I write in response to the complaint and accompanying documents you sent to our office of December 10, 2012. After careful review of your letter and documentation, I have reached the conclusion that there is not sufficient evidence to file a criminal complaint related to your concers. The District Attorney does not have authority, or jurisdiction, to act as a political watchdog, or to supervise or compel the performance of elected officials in the execution of their duties (including the execution of those ordinances that lie within their jurisdiction).” This after the State Attorney General’s Office CLEARLY put it in the hands of the DA’s office because they are the “main law enforcement agency of our county”!!!!

So, who else to spend hundreds and hundreds of hours fleshing out crimes of local politicians than those who are affected the most–INNOCENT CITIZENS!!–we are NOT protected and we stand alone and silenced!!! once again, Caveat Emptor–Let The Buyer Beware!!!