It has been nearly two months since The Storey Teller broke the news (which you can read here) about the accusations surrounding Jason Van Havel’s alleged misconduct with an underage female under his supervision. At this point, Van Havel remains under administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation and his status as a County employee.
When the story first broke we received a call from District Attorney Anne Langer correcting us on our reporting. In the piece, we reported that there was no apparent investigation when the matter was brought to the County’s attention and that only when DA Langer’s office was contacted with a complaint was the matter taken seriously.
Both DA Langer and HR Director Austin Osborne assured us that the County procedure for dealing with these matters is set in stone and consistent in all cases. Any matter of this nature, including the one involving Van Havel, sets in motion a series of procedural and investigative processes that ultimately result in an official determination of facts and recommended action. In the case of Van Havel, this process is still ongoing.
As of the date of this posting, the matter is still under investigation.
These are the facts of the case up to this point.
We would now like to offer observations we have come to based on interviewing numerous people close to the case and taking a 30,000 foot view of the situation.
Let’s start with Jason Van Havel himself. Our first interaction with Jason was when he was being asked by the County to pitch the Fuel Tax increase that was on the 2016 ballot. Jason went to the community candidate forums and made the case that the county needed the money to maintain infrastructure and help with the public works projects. He was frank open and very well versed on the topic.
In January, Jason took over for the retiring Mike Nevin as Public Works Director. During the past six months, we conducted several interviews with him and were struck by qualities he possesses that are rare commodity in Storey County:
- Jason is a transplant with a college degree from a big name school. This means that he is an outsider with no relatives in county employ and his education doesn’t stop with a Virginia City High School Diploma.
- Jason is smart, articulate and well spoken. Every interview we conducted with him revealed a sharp mind with attention to detail and a genuine emphasis on professional integrity.
- Jason has a serious and documented value of his stead as a public employee and takes the responsibility of spending taxpayer dollars in both labor and materials very seriously.
- Jason remains the only County employee who has disagreed with work done by The Storey Teller and had the guts to seek out and engage in rational discourse his concerns with our work. County Manager Pat Whitten has revealed his cowardice by ripping The Storey Teller on the record at commissioner meetings but has yet to pick up the phone and discuss issues he may have with us and our “Fake News” directly.
- Jason has a 20+ year track record of working with girls and boys of all ages coaching youth sports without a single incident. Many parents from his efforts are willing to step forth and vouch for his outstanding work with their kids.
Our experience with Jason Van Havel right up to the point of the accusation revealed a person of whom the accusations seemed remarkably out of character. Our initial reaction was “Why would a guy who is this smart and this experienced risk his family, career and future with this type of behavior? He sure seems smarter than that.”
Was Jason Van Havel Set Up?
The easiest way to throw someone under the bus is to paint them with the sexual harassment brush. With the “he said, she said” nature of the allegation, it is pretty easy to levy and it is a bell that is impossible to un-ring. Just ask Sheriff Antinoro. Many people in the county I have spoken to holds Jason in a dim light while not bothering to do anything but listen to gossip and castigate Jason without due process.
After we broke the Van Havel story, several people contacted us to share interesting information. This information centered around the notion that a certain individual who held a personal vendetta with Misty Van Havel and was interested in Jason Van Havel’s job may have been pivotal in making this a thing.
Our discussions with people who have background information on the situation revealed some interesting things about run-ins with the Van Havel family and this individuals family. These run-ins were particularly vitriolic and caused some serious drama for the good old boy and his family. Could this be a cause for Jason being “set up”?
While we have no direct proof of this allegation, this unnamed person has fingerprints all over the incident.
It appears likely that Jason Van Havel will lose his job. He is in the process of losing his marriage. If this was payback for some petty squabble, it would prove once again that the Good Old Boy Network continues to be a bad dream from which we just can’t wake up. This smaller and smaller group folks represent a dwindling network of bullies and creeps who protect themselves by weeding out smart, capable people who will not sign off on the concentration of power and money that these punks lust after.
It’s time to drain the swamp and send these worms packing. Hopefully more people with honest integrity don’t get tossed out with the swamp water.