The VOICE of Family-Owned Businesses , Issue 56

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VOI CE o fFa mi l y Own e dBu s i n e s s e s


Issue 56

Executive Board Of Directors

Firas “Russ” Soro Executive Chairman

Mark Kassab Vice Chairman

Remon Mansour Treasurer


Steve Mattia Secretary

Samir Salem Past Chairman


Executive Chairman’s Message: Our New Journey Together


President’s Message: Our Spirit Knows No Boundaries


Appeals Court Rules Against Arabo’s RMI, by General Counsel, David Jarvis


Steve Mattia Joined NMA Staff


ABC Leadership Meets NMA Board


NMA Leadership Meets Local Police Departments

Basil Zetouna Executive Member

Ghassan Namou Executive Member

Molly Sylvester Executive Member

10 Flavor Tobacco Referendum Update

Rony Georges Executive Member

11 Litigation And Membership Benefits Update

Saeed Somo Executive Member

12 2021 NMA Golf Tournament

15 NACS & State Associations Lobby Congress To Protect Their

Sam Attisha Executive Member


Wisam Moshe Executive Member

17 Higher Taxes Driving Business Out Of California

18 NMA Members Receive UniFirst Rebates

Executive Advisory Members Jason Rowe Anheuser‐Busch

19 California Lockdown To End June 15 20 Covid‐19 Vaccine Scams! 21 Employers Guidance, Covid‐19 Vaccines

Karam Toma Southern Wine & Spirits

21 Most Common Side Effects Of Covid‐19 Vaccine

Robert Wolf PepsiCo

22 CDC Revises Cleaning Guidelines

23 Job Killer’s 2021

President Arkan Somo

25 USPS Postponed Shipping Ban On Vape Products

General Counsel David C. Jarvis

26 Retailers, Beware! Customers Buying Large Amounts Of Gift Cards

The Voice is the official publication of Neighborhood Market Association.

To advertise contact Aysel Bakhtiyarova at 619‐313‐4400 or

27 Supplier Membership Application 28 Retailer Membership Application



t’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be elected to lead this powerful association. First, I would like to thank my predecessor, Mr. Samir Salem. He’s a good friend and a proven leader. Samir served with distinction. I will frequently tap into his knowledge and experience during my tenure. As an active member of the NMA, and holding various positions on the board, I am committed to the growth and success of the members of the NMA. Each board member has dedicated much of themselves to this association in hopes that each of our members will benefit in every successful way possible. The bar has been set high and I intend on achieving that same goal alongside the NMA’s new board and staff. We have much work to do in order to expand and become better, stronger and more successful than yesterday! With the help of our members, we will be able to overcome complex barriers. It's hard to remember yesterday's worries given what we've experienced over the past year. Even now, it seems inconceivable that I would speak to you during one of the worst health crises in modern day history. But here we are in 2021 in the middle of a world that has changed dramatically for all of us. COVID-19 has tested the limits of our businesses, our families and our employees, and it continues to affect everything we do; from how we do business, to how we train our employees and teach our children. This new “normal” approach is nothing like business as usual, but it has been a true test of our resilience in difficult times. Please know that while we’ve modified our plans due to the pandemic, we are still working on programs and services that our members can utilize. The virus hasn’t changed who we are, but it has made us become more versatile and more focused than ever on finding ways to better serve our members. I look forward to working with the NMA President, and the association’s Board of Directors to address issues that are vital to our members. We are always here for you!

Firas Soro Executive Chairman | 2 |

OUR SPIRIT KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES very year, our country goes through tremendous challenges. In 2020, Covid-19 shook the entire world in devastation. Our country, families and businesses encountered major losses because of this pandemic. However, here we are - still standing and moving forward with high hopes. Our family-owned businesses have been resilient and determined to push through the tragedies of this pandemic despite these unprecedented times we are living in. It has significantly changed certain aspects of our community and how we operate, it has also considerably impacted how the government functions.


The NMA continues to march ahead in leveraging existing relationships and building new ones to support its members. We are embracing the many changes businesses and communities have encountered and we are committed to our grass-root engagement. With this, I thank all NMA members for playing a significant role in the re-growth of the NMA. Also, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Executive and Advisory board members, and our wonderful staff for all of their hard work for making a significant difference in the association. As humans, we never truly know our full potential or strength until we are faced with difficult challenges; thus, being pushed to our limits. Through these difficult times we need to remind ourselves the best and most reliable solution is working together. We need to unite together to strengthen our nation, our businesses and our homes. It is up to us to make the changes we want in our communities. I would like to ask NMA members to continue improve our industry and be active and more involved politically. I encourage all members to support our political leaders who share our values and help protect our community. We are stronger when we unite as one; our voices will be heard and our impact will be great because our spirit knows no boundaries.

Arkan Somo President | 3 |




he NMA is finally closing its chapter of years of legal action surrounding the mismanagement and excessive compensation paid to its former leaders under the helm of Mark Arabo. After the Court (Case Number 37-2015-00032389 filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego) ordered Arabo’s removal as President of the NMA in 2018, Arabo’s corporation sued the NMA to enforce the terms of a management agreement purportedly entered into between the NMA and Arabo’s corporation. While this management agreement didn’t comply with NMA bylaws, this did not stop Arabo’s corporation from filing a lawsuit against the NMA. Payment of these excessive management fees was problematic for numerous reasons. One was that the NMA had no money in the bank when Arabo’s tenure ended at the end of 2017. There was literally no money when the Court-appointed receiver took over in January 2018. In fact, one of the NMA’s final actions in late 2017 was the bouncing of a check made payable to Arabo’s corporation. Another reason was that the management agreement was terminated by the Court as excessive. The NMA operated at a loss for years leading up to Arabo’s removal by the Court. There were further no active members of the NMA by the end of Arabo’s tenure, as compared to the approximately 2000 active members when he took over as President in 2011. Yet despite all this, Arabo’s corporation still sued for approximately $350,000 in management fees.

Arabo’s corporation, Refined Management, dismissed the management fee lawsuit in January 2020, and his corporation is currently suspended by the State of California. As part of the Court’s removal of Arabo as the President of the NMA and restricting his future involvement with the NMA, the Court ordered Arabo to reimburse the NMA $248,000 in excessive payments due to false representations made to the NMA’s then Board of Directors. Arabo appealed the Court’s decision with the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, State of California (Case Number D073850). The insurance company under the NMA’s old insurance policy paid for Arabo’s appeal. In its recent March 25, 2021 decision, the Appeals Court ruled against Arabo on all counts, and this hopefully marks an end to the years of financial damage caused by years of mismanagement of our beloved organization. With the end of these legal battles, the future looks bright for the NMA. New programs are in place. Membership is growing. Most importantly, the NMA is being governed by people dedicated to its restoration as a transparent and honest trade organization dedicated to its mission of truly supporting local retailers. The NMA and its members will be for ever grateful for those members who stood up and shed the light on the mismanagement and misuse of NMA funds and risk their own resources and prevailed every step of the way.

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By Arkan Somo, NMA President and labor protocols enacted by the ADA and State and Federal labor commissioner. Steve’s store visits are very important to our members as they get an update and personal response to the issues our industry faces today. As Executive Secretary and NMA board member, Steve is also involved in all the member programs the NMA negotiates. Steve’s involvement has brought new prospective to the NMA’s process in generating new programs, where he is able to relay what the members want and need in their stores. Steve continues to seek new and creative supplier partners, where our membership benefits can be diverse and lucrative, guaranteeing more and more success for all our member stores. The NMA family wishes Steve the best of luck for joining our team now and for many years to come.

n January, the NMA welcomed its newest staff member, Steve Mattia. Steve being the current NMA board’s Executive Secretary now also has the title of membership director. I first met Steve in 2009 when he was elected as the youngest NMA board member at the age of 22. Since then, I have watched Steve grow in his professional career, working as a private attorney catering to the local business community. As an attorney, Steve comes to the NMA with great professional experience, ripe with the knowledge our industry needs. Steve has been involved with the NMA from the time the new leadership took over in 2018 and continued to assist in the NMA’s success ever since. As membership director, Steve is in charge of visiting current and prospective member stores and educating them with the NMA’s existing and upcoming programs. Additionally, Steve stays up to date with all the industry government relations issues and make sure our members are conforming to the newest policies and laws affecting their stores. Part of Steve’s process is to ensure the member has all the proper signage in place and is compliant with safety

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he Neighborhood Market Association’s board of directors held a virtual meeting with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Director, Mr. Eric Hirata, Chief Deputy Director Mr. Joseph McCullough, and General Counsel Mr. Matthew Botting. The NMA’s leadership expressed their genuine gratitude to Mr. Hirata and the department staff for their commitment on continuing to work with the NMA in educating retailers with updates in legislation and departmental rules that help keep retailers compliant and our communities safe. One of the many issues discussed during the meeting were the proactive involvement of ABC towards licensees in areas of compliance, with result to offering online resources including the LEAD training program. We addressed the challenges small businesses face when competing with larger chain retailers in overly aggressive pricing. The question of to-go cocktails and mixed drinks delivery and how it would affect small businesses was discussed. The ABC addressed every inquiry made by the NMA President and Board in grave detail and provided effective solutions that we are happy to share with our members. The topic of building the Type 21 co-op was discussed, where the ABC was in favor of our efforts and approved of its implementation.

Mr. Hirata was pleased with the NMA’s leadership plan to rebuild the organization and to unite the voices of Familyowned businesses, mom and pop shops, and independent market operators. Mr. Hirata also highlighted the importance of continuing a partnership with the Neighborhood Market Association and its members to protect communities through education and by administering preventive programs that comply with California’s alcoholic beverage laws. Keeping communities safe is a collaborative effort that involves everyone. The NMA truly appreciates the time taken by the ABC leadership to address the issues our members regularly face. The meeting was thoroughly informative and the board was extremely pleased with the direction provided in order to perform effective business procedures that comply with the law. Not only will the NMA Board apply what we've learned to our own businesses, we will also ensure that our members are well informed for their businesses as well.

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NMA LEADERSHIP MEETS LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS EL CAJON The men and women of the El Cajon Police Department serve our diverse community with distinction and integrity. With Chief Police Mike Moulton leading the department, the NMA- without hesitation, reached out to the ECPD for an in-depth, sit down discussion. April 8, 2021 the NMA leadership decided it was time to reconnect with Police Chief Mike and the department for the welfare of our members and their businesses. We discussed topics such as the homeless population’s impact on our members, alcohol and tobacco compliance and challenges of COVID-19. Our meeting consisted of a question-and-answer period, where our members were able to ask the Chief and officers how the NMA can do its part in

strengthening our partnership with the police department. With the headstrong leaders of the NMA and the devoted staff of ECPD, we strategically put in place solutions in the event that our members are faced with difficult scenarios. Similar issues were discussed with San Diego and Chula Vista Police Departments.

L to R: Arkan Somo, Captain Royal Bates, Steve Mattia, Chief Mike Moulton, Wiam Paulus, Captain Rob Ransweiler, Basil Raffo, Jeff Mansour

CHULA VISTA Roxana Kennedy was appointed Chief of Police in 2016, becoming the first female Chief of Police for the City of Chula Vista. Aside from being Chief of Police, Roxana also volunteers with non-profit organizations and serves as the President of Project Compassion. Chief Kennedy leads a department of 270 sworn officers, 108.5 civilian employees, and more than a hundred volunteers. The NMA Leadership met with Chula Vista Police Department on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 to address the issues our community faces daily in relation to homelessness, tobacco licensing, Covid-19 reinforcements, and alcohol and tobacco decoy operations. NMA believes that when issues arise in the community, it affects everyone- especially businesses; rather than being oblivious to the situations and waiting on an outcome, we decided to take the initiative. During our sit down with CVPD, the NMA Leadership discussed the concerns of our members and the issues we have experienced as business owners ourselves. As business owners we try to come up with effective solutions that will sustain the safety of our customers and our business. We also need to ensure the protection of our businesses during non-operating hours. What CVPD has advised is to file a Trespass Letter. This form, once filed, will give the CVPD authorization to issue a citation or

arrest anyone trespassing on your property outside of business hours. There are some stipulations in order to file this form; all the information can be found by visiting the link: Our Board is committed to bringing solutions that will help enrich our businesses and community. We believe this meeting was a big move in achieving our goals here at the NMA. Though this is not our first meeting with CVPD, this is our first meeting with Chief of Police Roxana. The NMA would like to keep a close relationship with the Department and act as a voice for our members. We would also like to highlight the CVPD and their foundation. CVPD has sponsoring opportunities for their foundation that supports enhancing police services and supporting public safety programs for the community, just to name a couple. Your contribution to the CVPD can help make the community stronger. If you would like to make a contribution, the link to their site can be found below. We are fortunate to be in a position where we are able to partner with law enforcement to focus on the betterment of our community. When given the opportunity to make a difference, one should seize the moment and make a lasting impression. Empowering family-owned businesses is not just our motto, it’s a way of life for the NMA.

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SAN DIEGO The San Diego Police Department strives to advance the highest levels of public safety, trust, and professionalism by strengthening community partnerships through fair and impartial policing while fostering employee enrichment and growth to ensure we remain America’s Finest police department. City of San Diego’s Chief of Police David Nisleit has been in his position since 2018. His background includes positions ranging from Special Ops to Outreach to Investigations II. Chief Nisleit is also a professor of criminal justice at the University of San Diego and Alliant University. On January 28, 2021, the NMA Leadership met with San Diego Police Department, Chief of Police David Nisleit, Assistant Chief Paul Connelly, Detective Sergeant Ben McCurry and Captain Bernie Colon to discuss the major impacts of our communities that have affected small businesses. The NMA and SDPD share a 25year history of proactive and positive relationship so to meet with the department after a long break due to pandemic was much needed. NMA Leadership was able to discuss crucial matters that have gravely impacted small businesses around our community, such as homelessness related issues, Conditional Use Permits, Alcohol and Tobacco decoy ops, and Covid-19 enforcement. SDPD will work collaboratively with NMA community to resolve challenges, protect individual rights, and promote prosperity. Chief of Police David Nisleit and officers provided tips and

tools our members could utilize to ensure healthy business practices during operative hours. For those concerned about trespassing issues, the Police Department is advising individuals to file a Letter of Agency or Trespass Letter. This form basically authorizes the Police Department to cite or arrest a trespassing person on your property during non-operating hours. Visit the link below to access the form On behalf of the NMA Board and staff, we would like to extend our gratitude to Chief Nisleit and the entire SDPD for welcoming the NMA in their department to address the concerns of our members and for partnering with us to provide effective solutions. Working in partnership with law enforcement provides the extra security and assurance we need in our communities. The more we stand together in unisons, the stronger we are, the more we grow.

L to R: Captain Bernie Colon Remon Mansour, Tony Konja, Arkan Somo, Assistant Chief Paul Connelly, Mark Kassab, Molly Sylvester, Assistant Chief Chris McGrath

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n January 22, 2021, the referendum on the California flavored tobacco ban was qualified. In an effort to challenge a 2020 law prohibiting the retail sale of flavored tobacco products, the NMA alongside R. J. Reynolds submitted more than a million signatures to overturn the flavored tobacco ban. The Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that 623,312 signatures from registered voters were valid, which qualifies the referendum to be placed on the November 2022 ballot. This is a small step towards a big victory for the NMA and its members which consists mainly of small family-owned businesses. What it means is that the statewide ban on flavored tobacco and vape products has been put on hold and will wait for a voter decision. However, specific cities and counties may have their own separate ordinances and members should be aware of their individual jurisdiction rules. We do not condone the sale of tobacco amongst our youth and we strongly believe that those under the legal age should never have access to any tobacco products. The NMA will do our part in educating and ensuring the laws regarding tobacco sales are being implemented by our members and our employees. We are very pleased to share this news with the members of the NMA. As we send out emails regarding this recent update, our members can be at ease for now.

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n January 14, 2021, The Neighborhood Market Association in partnership with San Diego Cash & Carry Wholesale and Trepco West Wholesale Distribution, held its first quarterly meeting of the year at the Royal Palace Banquet Hall in El Cajon. The focus of the meeting was to give NMA members an update on the recent flavored tobacco and E-cig products ban. NMA president Mr. Arkan Somo and Executive director Steve Mattia shared an important update regarding the NMA’s lawsuit and Preliminary Injunction against the County of San Diego to stop the implementation and enforcement of its Ordinance banning Flavored Tobacco and all E-Cig devices. Despite the NMA’s efforts, the ordinance was passed by the Board of Supervisors thus, forcing the NMA to file a lawsuit to stop the enforcement of the ban. R.J. Reynolds filed a separate lawsuit which was later combined with the NMA’s, making our position even stronger. Retailers were given the opportunity to ask questions regarding the lawsuit filed against the County of San Diego and also provided feedback. Christian G. Vergonis, counsel for R.J. Reynolds, was invited to join the meeting virtually. R. J. Reynolds has two other similar lawsuits in different states, where Christian G. Vergonis is the lead attorney and is very familiar with the specifics of these cases. Mr. Vergonis

described the challenges of fighting such a case and how R.J. Reynolds is willing to go far to fight the County of San Diego and other jurisdictions who want to implement a similar ban. Unfortunately, on March 29, 2021 the judge ruled in favor of the County of San Diego and dismissed our case. The NMA and R.J. Reynolds are working together and will likely file an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the ruling. The NMA would like to thank Chris Vergonis for providing an update on the lawsuit and for joining in to speak to our retailers. This was a successful and informative meeting regarding the Flavored Tobacco Ban. We hope all who participated in the event received the information they needed. The NMA hopes to have similar meetings with members throughout the year, so that important information may be shared and discussed.

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Title Sponsor

Western Pump

Corporate Sponsors

Anheuser‐ Busch

Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits

Sycuan Casino & Resorts

Republic National Distributing Company

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Second Place Winners

First Place Winner

Ryan Shadburn, Ryan R., Michael Michaels, John Hendrick Fadi Cholagh, Andy Suliman, Sabah Toma, Wisam Cholagh

Closest to the Pin Winner Ryan Laverty

Longest Drive Ryan Rethmeier

Our Contributors, Foursome & Hole Sponsors Allison‐McCloskey Escrow Baja Jerky BBL USA Beam Suntory MVRK Farms Blaz Blue Bunny Boston Beer Company Brown Forman Clase Azul Constellation Brands Copy 2 Copy Signs DaVinci's Fine Foods Davos Brands

DEZO RTD Drink Vide EL SILENCIO Gallo Wine Heaven Hill Hempacco ILEGAL Mezcal Infinium Spirits LeVecke LiMandri & Jonna Mark Anthony Brands Maserati of San Diego Mattia Law APLC

Molson Coors O.A.P. Packaging Ocean 44 Vodka O’Neill Vintners Onda Beverage Inc. Pacific Wine & Spirits Paul Diaz Insurance Agency PepsiCo Petroleum Card Services Phusion Projects Reyes Coca‐Cola Bottling San Diego Cash & Carry San Diego Ice Company

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Soapy Joe's Southwest Spirits Sovereign Brands Sweets Empire Tequila Dahlia The Wine Group Tito’s Vodka Trepco West Trinchero Family Estates Trujillo's Taco Shop United Beverage & Spirits William Grant

Putting Contest Winner Gonzo Gomez


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MA President Arkan Somo attended the 2021 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Day on the Hill, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings took place with members of Congress and their staff in real-time, using an online portal. During the meetings, Mr. Somo discussed critical issues that NMA members face such as: Swipe Fee’s, Liability Protection and EV Infrastructure Swipe Fee’s. Every year credit card fees that retailers pay continue to rise at an unprecedented rate costing retailer’s so much money. This monopolized market, set by Visa and Mastercard, creates more revenue for the banks and burdens U.S. merchants and consumers with the extremely high swipe fees. Swipe fees have become the second-highest operating cost, surpassing the cost of rent and utilities. Our small businesses cannot thrive with the constant pressure created by the increases in swipe fees. For this reason, NMA joined with NACS to ask Congress to ensure there is price competition on swipe fees; thus, creating a competitive market where retailers can shop around on price. Liability Protection. When it comes to liability protection you think of safety, or the assurance of knowing you will not be held liable in essence. Unfortunately, when the unforeseen, unexpected events of COVID-19 occurred, many were unsure of how to proceed and small businesses were no exception. We were faced with a daunting decision of whether we should continue to remain open and serve our communities with the essential needs they required to survive or close. Our businesses have fought to great lengths to comply with changing guidance from the local, state and federal government. We have taken extraordinary measures to protect our employees and consumers by placing plexiglass guards up, enforcing no entries without masks, increased cleaning and sanitizing and social distancing tape and signage. The NMA, NACS and other state associations have urged Congress to pass legislation providing liability protections

for businesses who took responsible measures to slow the spread of the virus. EV Infrastructure. Another issue we are strongly urging Congress to address is on EV Charging stations. The convenience and fuel retailing industry sells over 80% of motor fuel in the U.S. at approximately 122,000 locations. A fraction of these locations are familyowned and small businesses. With the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure, private sectors could have fair access to incentive and investment opportunities to provide consumers the widest range of choices in fueling their vehicles. In a debate regarding the EV infrastructure, some policymakers are pushing for electric utilities to build, own and operate electric charging stations. Our take on this issue is that not only will this impair the longterm development of the EV charging market, it will also drive out private investment and stunt the growth of EV charging infrastructure. We need to ensure that any business will have fair access to the incentive and investment opportunities and EV owners get the best prices. The House and Senate need to support a competitive private market for EV charging and remove hurdles to private sector investment.

Mr. Somo met with Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alejandro Padilla, California Representatives Darrell Issa [50], Young Kim [39], Maxine Waters [43], Lou Correa [46] and Michelle Steel [48] to discuss these three major topics that put a strain on the NMA members businesses. Every day, members of Congress work on legislation that can have a major influence. Historically, the NMA President used to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with Senators and Congress to lobby for small businesses and present the issues we face. Since the pandemic these meetings have halted and now only occur virtually. With the ongoing challenges being presented to us and the inability to address these issues in person we have come across slight delays in resolution. Regardless, we continue to be committed and persevere using every resource and exhausting every lead to ensure our members are triumphant when it comes to their businesses.

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t is a fact that the wealthy oneThis type of thinking and attitude towards percenters in California are paying the individuals and the corporations that half of the state’s income taxes. Not sustain California’s economy is only does the state rely on these wealthy unacceptable. It is clear why they are few for revenue, but also for the jobs they choosing to leave our state. Elon Musk and create. Nevertheless, policymakers within Tesla are not alone. Other notable the state seem to think there is no limit to corporations that have decided to move what they can demand from these out of California are: Bare Essentials, benefactors. The topic of California’s Charles Schwab, Dole, HP, Jamba Juice, unfriendly policy towards business has Nestle, Nissan North America, Pabst been hotly debated for quite some time. Brewing Company, and Toyota North Once again, the issue has come to a head. With the top 1% America. These are just the most notable on the list funding the state’s progressive tax structure, California provided by The Center for Jobs & the Economy. seeks to increase the amount they pay and/or levy new The truth is that many corporations have either decided to taxes against them. leave or have decided to expand their production plants to Many corporations have had enough and decided to leave other states to take advantage of their better/friendlier tax the state. In December, Elon Musk announced that he policies towards businesses. Apple is one example, they would be moving to Texas and that he would be moving have begun the construction of a new campus in Austin, Tesla HQ to Texas as well. What really crossed the line for Texas where they will be producing Mac Pros. This new him was California’s quarantine restrictions, which plant is going to provide thousands of new jobs to Texans, required him to shut down production. Instead of our jobs that could have been kept in California. policymakers seeking to compromise with him, the infamous Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, tweeted the Sooner or later, California will have to learn that there are repercussions for biting the hand that feeds you. response, “F*ck Elon Musk,”.

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alifornia officials will lift the state’s coronavirus restrictions on June 15, if there are enough COVID-19 vaccines available for anyone age 16 or older and hospitalizations remain lower. However, the state’s mask mandate continues, and there will be some limits on large indoor events or conventions of more than 5,000 people at least until fall.

Coronavirus case counts have been climbing in several states, but California COVID-19 cases are declining. The state has an average of about 2,700 new cases a day, the lowest figure since June. As of Monday, the CDC reported that 34% of the California’s population had received at least one vaccine shot, and 18% are fully vaccinated.

As such, Californians can return to restaurants, bars, movie theaters, houses of worship and concerts without strict capacity limits for the first time in more than a year. Several states have already eased health restrictions. At the same time, the Biden-Harris Administration has urged them to continue current safety protocols. Some health officials are worried about a potential fourth surge of the virus in the U.S., and there are concerns about the spread of virus variants.

“With more than 20 million vaccines administered across the state, it is time to turn the page on our tier system and begin looking to fully reopen California’s economy,” said Governor Newsom.

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riminals are using the COVID-19 emergency to steal personal and medical information from people across the country. You should not respond to unsolicited requests to conduct COVID-19 testing, obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, or provide your personal and medical information. BEWARE OF COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS: Be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines. You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility. Government and State officials will not call you to obtain personal information in order to receive the vaccine, and you will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine. Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review. Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.

Do not respond to, or open hyperlinks in, text messages or emails about COVID-19 from unknown individuals. Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure the location is an official testing site. Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19. Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test. If you believe you have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to 1-800-HHS-TIPS or visit For official local COVID-19 vaccine information, visit

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year ago, COVID-19 forced states to shut down, thus, businesses closed down. Some, to never to reopen again. Despite the skepticism and reluctance of the COVID-19 vaccine, 20.6% of San Diego County Residents have been fully vaccinated and 33.8% have been administered one dose. Now it seems a new day is upon us. Due to the positive results from the vaccine, restaurants are able to resume indoor dining, businesses are reopening and county and state offices are reopening for in-person consulting.

•Carefully consider and document business justifications •Before rolling out a mandatory vaccination requirement, clearly communicate the process •The vaccination program should consider all applicable legal requirements, be clearly communicated to employees and uniformly enforced •Where the workforce is unionized, employers must consider any applicable collective bargaining agreements to determine the extent of their duty to bargain with the unions regarding a vaccine program.

With three COVID-19 vaccines on the market, retailers are encouraging their workforce to get vaccinated. COVID-19 killed more than half a million people and infected more than 28 million in the United States. As of May 2021, over 100 million vaccines have been administered in the US. Employers who have navigated the array of health and safety requirements during the pandemic are now considering whether they can require their employees to get the vaccine to continue to perform their work in or return to the workplace. While we are waiting for specific guidance on this topic from controlling federal and state agencies, prior guidance indicates that mandatory vaccination policies generally are permissible during a pandemic (subject to limitations under federal and state laws). Mandatory vaccination programs also are not new. For example, it is not unusual for employers in the medical field to implement such policies in the context of the influenza vaccine.

•Any medical information must be kept confidential and maintained separate from an employee’s personnel file. Even as more Americans receive vaccines, there is a very real concern in many communities around vaccine hesitancy and fears, which are genuine concerns that many employers continue to address. Vaccine hesitancy is often defined as a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services. Here are some tips that could help employers ease vaccine hesitancy and fears among their workforce: •Listen and be empathetic. •Have a centralized Q&A available that is regularly updated with accessible fact sheets. •Include trusted community representatives, especially for people who have been historically marginalized or mistreated by the medical community.

For employers considering a vaccine mandate, here are five tasks worth undertaking:



ide effects after vaccination are normal and is just your body’s way of building immunity. The most common side effect reported is pain and swelling in the area of injection. Some have also experienced fever, chills, tiredness, and headaches. Side effects can last up to a few days. Though side effects are common, the CDC strongly encourages individuals and healthcare providers report any side effects experienced after vaccination. To report a side effect after COVID-19 vaccination visit: or call 1-800-8227967. Depending on state requirements and eligibility, you can schedule a free vaccine at a Walgreens clinic near you. Stay updated on when you are able to get a Vaccine. Sign up at or call (833) 422-4255 to schedule your appointment or get notified when appointments are available in your area.

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CDC REVISES CLEANING GUIDELINES The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting facilities, relaxing recommendations for some types of cleaning when COVID-19 risks aren’t elevated.

of the virus particles, which decreases risk of infection from surfaces. Disinfecting kills any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection. Retailers should either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect (in addition to cleaning) in shared spaces if certain conditions apply. Conditions that include increased risk of infection from touching surfaces, such as high transmission of COVID19 in the community, a low number of people wearing masks, infrequent hand hygiene, or the space is occupied by people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Because the virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces, it’s possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth or eyes. In most situations, however, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low, and when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections are known to be in a particular space, “cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility,” the CDC said.

In the event a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was in a facility within the past 24 hours, retailers should clean and disinfect the space. Visit: for further details on the new guidelines related to cleaning and disinfecting facilities.

The agency recommends regular hand washing or use of hand sanitizer, along with regular cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to reduce the risk of infection. The CDC recommends cleaning with products containing soap or detergent to reduce germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and potentially weakening or damaging some

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JOB KILLER’S 2021 Criminal Liability for Good Faith Mistakes AB 1003

Employees: bereavement leave AB 95

Despite California’s onerous, confusing, and always changing wage and hour laws, proposes to criminalize small employers, managers, and supervisors, who in good faith, make a mistake in the application of the law, that even the Labor Commissioner and the courts disagree with on how to interpret.

Would enact the Bereavement Leave Act of 2021. The bill would require an employer with 25 or more employees to grant an employee up to 10 business days of unpaid bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner, in accordance with certain procedures, and subject to certain exclusions. The bill would require an employer with fewer than 25 employees to grant up to 3 business days of leave, in accordance with these provisions. The bill would prohibit an employer from interfering with or restraining the exercise or attempt to exercise the employee’s right to take this leave.

Expansion of Duty to Accommodate Employees and Litigation Under FEHA AB 1119 Imposes new burdens on employers to accommodate any employee with family responsibilities, which will essentially include a new, uncapped protected leave for employees to request time off for things such as school drop-off or pick-up, and exposes employers to costly litigation under the Fair Employment Housing Act that any adverse employment action was in relation to the employee’s family responsibilities, rather than a violation of employment policies.

Workers’ compensation AB 1465 Would require the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation, on or before January 1, 2023, to submit a study to the Legislature, the committees of the Senate and Assembly with jurisdiction over workers’ compensation, and the Division of Workers’ Compensation on delays and access to care issues in medical provider networks. The bill would require the study to compare specified data for injury claims in which a worker was treated by a medical provider network to that data for injury claims in which a worker was treated by a provider who is not part of a medical provider network.

Costly New Mandate on Employers to Pay for Employee Childcare AB 1179 Imposes a new, costly mandate on public and private employers to cover up to 60 hours of employees’ childcare costs each year, with any alleged violation resulting in litigation under PAGA.

Paid sick days: accrual and use AB 995

Additional COVID‐19 Sick Leave SB 95

Current law authorizes an employer to use a different accrual method as long as an employee has no less than 24 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 120th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period. Current law also provides that an employer may satisfy the accrual requirements by providing not less than 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave that is available to the employee to use by the completion of the employee’s 120th calendar day of employment. This bill would modify the employer’s alternate sick leave accrual method to require that an employee have no less than 40 hours of accrued sick leave or paid time off by the 200th calendar day of employment or each calendar year, or in each 12-month period.

Senate voted to concur in Assembly amendments to SB 95, a budget trailer bill by Senator Nancy Skinner. The bill extends COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave and provides up to 80 hours for eligible employees. This is an extension of a similar leave requirement that was in place in 2020. Newly included in this extension, however, is a provision allowing this extended leave to apply to appointments to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as for any sick time needed due to vaccine side effects.

Unflavored tobacco list AB 598 Would require the Attorney General to establish and maintain on the Attorney General’s internet website a list of tobacco product brand styles that lack a characterizing flavor, as defined. The bill would authorize the Attorney General to require a manufacturer or importer of tobacco products to submit a list of all brand stages of tobacco products they manufacturer or import to the Attorney General. The bill would authorize manufacturers and importers of tobacco products to submit to the Attorney General a list of all brand styles, as defined, of tobacco products that they manufacture or import for sale or distribution in or into California that lack a characterizing flavor.

Leave AB 1041 Would expand the population that an employee can take leave to care for any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

Oil and Gas Development Ban SB 467 Eliminates thousands of high-paying California jobs and requires California to import even more foreign oil by shutting down approximately 95% of oil and gas production in California.

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public to track the number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks by both workplace and industry.

AB 123 Paid family leave: weekly benefit amount Current law establishes, within the Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund program, a family temporary disability insurance program, also known as the paid family leave program, for the provision of wage replacement benefits for up to 8 weeks to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or placement, as specified.

AB 247 COVID‐19 emergency Would exempt a small business or nonprofit organization with 100 or fewer employees from liability for an injury or illness to a consumer, as defined, due to coronavirus based on a claim that the consumer contracted COVID19 while at that small business or nonprofit organization, or due to the actions of that small business or nonprofit organization. The bill would require the small business or nonprofit organization, for this exemption to apply, to have implemented and substantially complied with all applicable state and local health laws, regulations, and protocols.

AB 755 Labor Commissioner unlawful discrimination Current law prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions, unless the employer demonstrates that one or more specific factors, reasonably applied, account for the entire wage differential. Current law also similarly prohibits an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of another race or ethnicity for substantially similar work.

FLEXIBLE WORK SCHEDULES AB 230 Assembly Bill 230 would enact the Workplace Flexibility Act of 2021. The bill would permit an individual nonexempt employee to request an employee-selected flexible work schedule providing for workdays up to 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek, and would allow an employer to implement this schedule without the obligation to pay overtime compensation for those additional hours in a workday, except as specified. The bill would require that the flexible work schedule contain specified information and the employer’s and the employee’s original signature. The bill would also require the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in the Department of Industrial Relations to enforce this provision and adopt regulations.

SB 620 Distilled spirits and beer: This bill would authorize a person licensed in California as a distilled spirits manufacturer or craft distiller, a holder of a federal basic permit to import distilled spirits issued by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and a license to import distilled spirits issued by this state or any other state, or a person licensed in any other state as a distilled spirits producer, who obtains a distilled spirits direct shipper permit, to sell and ship distilled spirits directly to a resident of California, who is 21 years of age or older, for the president’s personal use and not for resale. The bill would impose various obligations on distilled spirits direct shipper permitholders before they could begin shipping, including obtaining a seller’s permit or registering with the State Board of Equalization. The bill would prohibit sales and shipments of distilled spirits directly to consumers in California from distilled spirits producers who do not possess a distilled spirits direct shipper permit. The bill would provide that a person who knowingly makes, participates in, transports, imports, or receives such a shipment would be guilty of a misdemeanor. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

MINIMUM WAGE VIOLATIONS AB 572 Current law establishes, within the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, the Department of Industrial Relations, which is under the control of the Director of Industrial Relations, and establishes within the department the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is under the control of the Labor Commissioner. Current law vests with the commissioner the authority to receive, investigate, and hear employee complaints regarding the payment of wages and other employment-related issues and authorizes citations to be served, as specified. Under current law, any employer or other person acting either individually or as an officer, agent, or employee of another person, who pays or causes to be paid to any employee a wage less than the minimum fixed by applicable state or local law or an order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, is subject to a civil penalty, restitution of wages, liquidated damages payable to the employee, and applicable specified penalties, as provided. This bill, would make a non-substantive change to these provisions.

AB 654 Covid‐19: exposure: notification: Would require the State Department of Public Health to make workplace and industry information received from local public health departments available on its internet website in a manner that, among other things, allows the

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AB 109 Medicinal and Adult‐Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.

AB 422 Tobacco products: individuals under 21 years of age.

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), among other things, consolidates the licensure and regulation of commercial medicinal and adult-use cannabis activities. Existing law establishes in state government a Cannabis Control Appeals Panel that consists of 5 members, appointed as specified. This bill would make a no substantive change to the provision establishing the Cannabis Control Appeals Panel.

Would expressly authorize a city, county, or city and county to adopt an ordinance prohibiting a person under 21 years of age from possessing any tobacco cigarette or other tobacco product. The penalty under the ordinance would be the issuance of an administrative citation requiring the person to participate in an antismoking educational program. The bill would additionally authorize the ordinance to require the confiscation of a tobacco product from a person under 18 years of age, as specified. The bill’s prohibitions would not apply with respect to active-duty military personnel who are 18 years of age or older.

AB 286 Food delivery: fees and tips. Would make it unlawful for a food delivery platform to impose specified charges on food facilities and customers, including making it unlawful to impose charges for a food facility’s use of the platform’s service that, in total, exceed 15% of an online order purchase price, as defined. The bill would make it unlawful for a food delivery platform to retain any portion of amounts designated as a tip or gratuity. The bill would also require a food delivery platform to disclose to the customer and the food facility a cost breakdown of each transaction, including prescribed information. The bill would provide that a violation of the act constitutes unfair competition. The bill would make the provisions of the act severable.



new regulation banning the US Postal Service from shipping vaping products was approved in late December – and set to take effect in late March. However, USPS received over 15,000 comments and they will need time to evaluate them. USPS spokesman stated the USPS is not yet ready to implement the final rule. He stated that the USPS would finalize the rule “as soon as possible.”

FedEx and UPS have stated their companies will follow the USPS directive and will not ship vaping products either. We will continue to update you all as much as possible.




he Federal Trade Commission has issued warnings about gift-card scams as some retailers report an increase in customers—especially older customers— purchasing large amounts of gift cards in their stores. The agency has created a Stop Gift Card Scams Toolkit to help retailers do their part to prevent this form of fraud.

or a tech support company. They may tell the victim that they owe back taxes or have a computer problem that needs fixing. The call is always urgent, and the caller wants the victim to go to a retail store and purchase a popular gift card, such as iTunes, Google Play or Amazon.

Gift cards are for gifts, not payments, but scammers are asking consumers to pay with gift cards, the FTC reports. Typically, they contact victims by phone and claim to be from a legitimate organization, such as the IRS

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NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET ASSOCIATION “Empowering Family-Owned Businesses”

SUPPLIER MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION Three Levels of Annual Membership Fees* Memberships are based on Twelve Months (12) from this date _____/_____/________ BUSINESS INFORMATION






___Other (specify)



Business Name: Business Address: Street: ___________________________________________________ City:


Business #


Zip Code:

Fax #

Billing Address: Street: ____________________________________________________ City:



Zip Code:

Contact Person #1:

___________________ (Last)

___________________ (First)

________________ Title


Mobile # (_____) _____-___________

Contact Person #2:

___________________ (Last)


___________________ (First)

________________ Title

Mobile # (_____) _____-___________ PAYMENT INFORMATION

_____$500 Annual Membership for companies with 1-10 employees _____$1000 Annual Membership for companies with 11-25 employees _____$1500 Annual Membership for companies with 26 or more employees _____ Check here if you do not want $50 of your membership fee to go towards the NMA Political Action Committee

□ Please check the appropriate box(s) if you are interested in participating in the following: □ NMA Annual Banquet □ NMA Annual Golf Tournament □ NMA Annual Buying Trade Show □ Advertising in the NMA Publications Donation Type

NMA Political Action Committee Law Enforcement Reward Fund Membership Legal Defense Fund






____ ____ ____

____ ____ ____

_____ _____ _____

______ ______ ______

______ ______ ______

Please make check payable to Neighborhood Market Association or NMA Office Use Only: _____/___________QB

___/_______________PKT ___/_____________

Mail Application and Payment Dues to: Neighborhood Market Association 6367 Alvarado Court Suite 204, San Diego, CA 92120 For additional information call NMA staff at 619-313-4400 Or email at

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NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET ASSOCIATION “Empowering Family-Owned Businesses”

RETAILER MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION Reduced Annual Membership Fee* $250 per location Memberships are based on Twelve Months (12) from this date _____/_____/________ BUSINESS INFORMATION

Business Name___________________________________________________________________ Address_________________________________________________________________________ City_______________


Business # (____) _____________ Corporation:

□ Yes

□ No


Mobile # (____) ______________

Zip Code____________

Fax # (____) _______________

Corp. Name _____________________________________________________

Billing Address _______________________________________________________________________ City_____________________ County __________________State ____________Zip________________ Contact Person ______________________________ Title (owner, mgr., etc.) ______________________________ (Last)


Email: _______________________________________ How many other retail businesses you own directly or indirectly? _____________________________ REFERRED BY: _______________________________________________________________ PAYMENT INFORMATION Annual Membership ____

*$250 per location (separate applications must be submitted for each location)

Check box if you do not want $50 of your membership fee to go towards the NMA Political Action Committee.

Please, check box if you are interested in joining the NMA Buying Group so we can send you additional information. Donation Type






NMA Political Action Committee Law Enforcement Reward Fund

____ ____

____ ____

_____ _____

______ ______

______ ______

Membership Legal Defense Fund






Please make check payable to Neighborhood Market Association or NMA

Office Use Only: _____/___________QB

___/_______________PKT ___/_____________

Mail Application and Payment Dues to: Neighborhood Market Association 6367 Alvarado Court Suite 204, San Diego, CA 92120 For additional information call NMA staff at 619-313-4400 Or email at

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Supplier Directory

BANKING Bank of America Bank of America Merchant Services Hanmi Bank Neighborhood National Bank

Ali Arman Evian Anguis Nizar Dahdouh Nora Seiba

(619) 315‐0878 (619) 241‐3583 (858) 467‐4815 (619) 592‐6268

BOOKKEEPING/ACCOUNTING SERVICES Cashuk, Wiseman, Goldberg, Birnbaum & Salem San Diego Business Advisors Sontera Group

Wes Salem Steven Leibold Irina Tatarenko

Byte Federal

Franco Higgins

(619) 563‐0145 (619) 294‐4286 (760) 672‐7416

BITCOIN ATM (404) 913‐0177


Dominic Purpura

(630) 734‐7508

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Coyote Press Graphics

Victoria Vinton

(520) 818‐6495 ICE CREAM & ICE SUPPLIERS Thomas Kazemeini (619) 919‐3920 Anthony Toma (619) 688‐1999

Blue Bunny San Diego ICE Company

INSURANCE SERVICES Nickie Heath Insurance Agency Paul Diaz Insurance Agency Law Offices of Gloria, Weber & Jarvis STratege Law Royal Palace Sycuan Casino & Resort Town & Country Resort PIP Printing Pepsi Co Trap Fuel

Nickie Heath Paul Diaz

(858) 487‐3737 (310) 213‐2217 LEGAL SERVICES (619) 322‐3144 David Jarvis (619) 677‐5800 Scott Scheper RESTAURANTS & RESORTS (619) 442‐9900 Namir Mattia (619) 445‐6002 Lauren Morrow (858) 877‐1409 Alex Nath PRINTING & PUBLISHING (619) 528‐8000 Jay Levine SOFT DRINKS Robert Wolf (949) 279‐7924 Sassan Panahi (888) 405‐8727


Basil Raffo

(619) 444‐1800


Jesse Dagget

(800) 225‐3364

WHOLESALERS FOR GROCERIES, MERCHANDISE & TOBACCO PRODUCTS Altria Blaz CBD Hempacco Packaging Reynolds San Diego Cash & Carry Trepco West West Coast Hookah & Glass

Miguel Lopez Bob Klein Sandro Piancone Chelsea Davis Jeff Mansour Al Paulus Remon Mansour

(804) 484‐8394 (480) 244‐7160 (775) 473‐1201 (336) 741‐2550 (619) 441‐9842 (619) 690‐7999 (619) 444‐1053


WINE & SPIRITS SUPPLIERS Anheuser‐Busch Gallo Wine Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits Republic National Distributing Company

Jason Rowe Steve Kozar Neil Sorensen Scott Blackburn

(619)392‐3596 (858) 547‐0204 (714) 724‐7929 (858) 537‐2808

jason.Rowe@anheuser‐ Scott.Blackburn@rndc‐

NMA Urges Its Members to Support Our Supplier Members by Utilizing Their Products and Services.

Courage. Strength. Thank You,Convenience Store Employees.

In these extraordinary times, you’ve persevered in extraordinary ways. You’ve stayed open, strong, and safe for your community, and for that we can’t thank you enough. You’ve stood with us – and we proudly stand with you.


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