The Man Behind the Curtain
October 16th, 2016
In 2012 “they were already working on your case. RJ […] started this via Corporate Affairs.” The reference to “RJ” is Robert Falconi, the General Counsel at the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
Insiders are terrific. It helps hearing insight from the inside. We’ve heard a lot, and from a lot of sources.
For instance, a variety of CSA staff have complained to us about Falconi. We were quite interested in their comments, especially as Falconi was the one who started CSA’s attacks against us.
The CSA started litigating PS Knight Co, the owner of RestoreCSA, early in 2012, after 45 years of leaving us alone. Their legal argument was that CSA privately owns domestic law because they helped draft it, therefore we can’t quote the law without their permission. But CSA knew all along that their argument was nonsense. They were trying to use the litigation process itself to bankrupt PS Knight. As one source put it; “If CSA was so sure that the end result would be so simple, why did they hold off for so long and spend so much money, time and exposure?”
Well, a lot of CSA’s troubles are self inflicted, they’re the result of poor leadership and corroded culture. In a few short years, CSA became a heavily politicized workplace.
“There were a lot of changes at CSA when Ash [Sahi, CEO] was there – not positive. The senior management hurt a lot of people. The real abuser is RJ Falconi, who doesn’t do a lot but is still there.” We’ve heard versions of this from several sources. “He travels quite a bit (why???) and racks up luxury expenses (even while on vacation time). He is the person who pushes for court cases even though he does not handle them (outsourced).”
We’ve heard that too. “RJ is intimidated by strong, capable people, so he hires weaker candidates to report to him, but then he’s got to outsource all the jobs because his staff can’t do it.”
One staffer explained that “most of [them] stay at CSA as they have family and are riding their time out.” These folks know who they’re working for and what CSA’s become. And they’re blunt; “I really hope that you win your case and set a precedent. I’ve been following your website since the beginning and a lot of what you write is true. CSA Executives get away with an awful lot (basically overpaid crooks).”
Another staffer echoed that, saying that CSA “executives make outrageous money for a not-for-profit association.”
That’s the same sort of thing we heard from their HR department.
For instance, “[We] sent out annual surveys to be completed by staff to evaluate management [and] over 50% of [Falconi’s] legal team claimed they would leave the company if he maintained his leadership over them. Extremely unsatisfied with him. Instead of terminating him, [they] gave him the job of Government Relations (previously held by Suzanne Kiraly who eventually left CSA a few months later).”
“I can’t tell you how shocked [someone] and others were. RJ, if crossed, will find some way of getting someone fired so people were nervous. He was furious, and I mean furious, when he was allocated to another area of the building and [someone] took his office”.
And again; “HR also had RJ take management courses (mandatory) so that he would improve his people skills.”
Still, the complaints kept coming. HR had to do something, but corporate politics kept getting in the way and, all the while, resentment among his lawyers kept growing.
Said one; “Rather than appreciate his team he would hardly allocate funds to anyone (ie bonus, increase, training, etc) but would funnel back to expense codes that he could use, ie travel, expenses, career improvements, etc. So people were quite fed up to put it mildly. It wasn’t just his team but a lot of people at CSA who dealt with him catered to him because they knew his reputation. Can’t figure out why Ash kept him unless other Executives vouched for RJ and persuaded Ash not to let him go.”
“Once Ellen [Pekillis] left, […] RJ approached Ash to reclaim his old job of being General Counsel again (RJ told staff Ash approached him) so now he is back to his old position as well as Gov’t Relations.”
Sounds like a rubbish environment to work it, doesn’t it? But it gets worse.
“He also had one of the legal investigators look into Ash’s background to see if he could find anything. [It seems that] Ash does not like lawyers and originally wanted to downsize the legal department. Don’t know what they found out. If anything it was kept under wraps.”
How’s that for office politics? Regular readers will recall that early in their action against PS Knight, CSA hired investigators to see if they could find anything on us. Shortly thereafter, we heard from “Oscar Jensen”. That sort of conduct is familiar at CSA, but it’s rarely acknowledged.
“The secrecy portion is the fact that whenever I need info I have to go through hoops to get it. Protectionism is big at CSA. When Ash was there I didn’t know what would set anyone off. He governed by fear as did RJ. [Falconi’s] legal staff didn’t like him for many reasons and wanted him fired. Instead, management gave him another position in Gov’t Relations and he maintained [the] Board Secretary position. The person who [managed] Gov’t Relations was terminated afterward, so I’m guessing RJ had something to do with that. Legal staff were terrified thinking he would eventually do something to them.”
From a former staff member; “It’s really the Executives that will protect RJ due to their own protectionism. They all know what they had to do in order to comply with Ash […] Also there is an Executive Committee and they obviously discussed anything that could harm them and again RJ would supply background.”
Another, well informed, source surmised that Falconi “probably maintained the board secretary position because he knew too much. He is a long term employee and had access to a lot of info, and he did consult with board members [on] their rights and obligations. Whenever something happened internally he would get a legal opinion and then advise them. I think that RJ getting the legal info prior to anyone else meant that he knew the repercussions and he probably withheld info to his advantage.”
Falconi’s been at CSA since 1999. That’s a lot of legacy, it could be a lot of leverage.
From the board itself; “[We thought] that RJ was harmless as he was a bit of a joke, which is his best cover. He manipulates by suggestions and innuendos.”
The suggestions and innuendos are evident to the lower echelons as well. Nearly everyone we’ve heard from about Falconi has a story of intimidation. From the highlights;
“I couldn’t deal with anyone at CSA without feeling bullied”.
“He is conniving, narcissistic and self-serving.”
And then there’s the money issue. Remember the comments from one of our sources about Falconi’s “luxury expenses”?
Well, “he will find any loophole in company policies to justify spending for himself such as travel or moving funds within budget to allocate for himself. Too many to list. He loves to travel on company time / funds. He doesn’t pay for anything.”
“He’ll go for days on end away from the office, all apparently ‘at work’ somewhere.”
“His profile is just a lot of hot air. Moving funds within the budget to benefit him and not other colleagues.”
“RJ has no problem spending CSA money.”
“That’s how shallow and greedy he is. He spent a lot of time outside of the office and he did not list certain meetings in his calendar so nobody knew where he was half the time.”
The HR dept knows about his spending but, for political reasons, they can’t correct him.
Said one associate; “As I mentioned before, the legal team tried to oust him permanently from CSA as they had a strong dislike for him and his management style. […] They failed as all CSA did was give him another position titled Government Relations and Board Sec. […] That took him four years and Ash Sahi leaving. His title has changed and he no longer has the Gov’t Rel’s title. HAVING WON THE “RESTORECSA” CASE SAVED HIM (as well as the Bauer vs More case and covering up the mobile homes). [All caps in original]”
The RestoreCSA case is under appeal, by the way, so he might not be quite so saved after all.
Said one staffer; “If you can find some way to get him ousted without CSA paying him to leave, that would be amazing and many people would cheer.”
We know. We’re working on it.