LEAGUE CITY — Council members Dan Becker and Dennis OKeeffe got into a fistfight at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. The fight had to be broken up by other council members and police.

Both men were issued citations for disorderly conduct, according to copies of the tickets obtained by The Daily News.

Mayor Tim Paulissen, who witnessed the fight, confirmed the two council members got into an argument before it turned to blows. City spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt and other city officials who witnessed the fight and the aftermath confirmed the incident.

Five police officers, including Chief Michael Kramm, responded to the fight, according to police reports.

Based on interviews with those at City Hall at the time of the incident and city records, it appears the ruckus started about 6 p.m. after OKeeffe and Becker got into an argument about what OKeeffe considered an improper meeting about the budget.

Council had scheduled a public meeting Wednesday to review the impact of its directive that the city cut 3 percent from its budget. That meeting was canceled at noon.

Becker reportedly was upset that responses from city departments outlined what programs would have to be cut for city departments to meet the council’s goals. He and Councilwoman Heidi Thiess accused City Manager Mike Loftin of playing politics with the budget process.

Paulissen set up a meeting that was to include Thiess, Becker, the mayor and the city manager to address the complaints.

OKeeffe complained that such a meeting was catering to a few council members instead of the entire council. So he and Councilwoman Joanna Dawson showed up for the meeting.

Soon after, Thiess and Becker showed up, creating a quorum. The Texas Open Meetings Act prohibits a quorum of council members gathering to discuss city business outside a properly posted public meeting.

Becker and OKeeffe got into an argument about who would have to leave. That argument turned into a fistfight in the corner of Loftin’s office.

Police were called.

The city manager was down the hall when the fight broke out. Chief of Staff David Benson said he and Assistant City Manager John Baumgartner were in a conference room down the hall. Wyatt said she was in her office and didn’t see what happened.

“I cannot provide detailed comments in advance of defending a citation involving an altercation for attending a council member budget meeting without an invitation,” OKeeffe said in an email.

Becker did not return repeated calls, text messages or emails. Thiess and Dawson also did not return calls.

Loftin declined to comment and referred The Daily News’ questions to police.

OKeeffe confirmed The Daily News’ account of events and claims Becker threw the first punch.

The Daily News requested police records, copies of the 911 calls and any security video of the incident. The city did provide a basic police report, copies of the citations and security video of the incident but because of an ongoing investigation and the possibility of additional charges, the 911 calls and the detailed report of the incident were not immediately released.

The City Hall video does not show the incident because it happened in the city manager’s office, where there are no cameras.

According to the citations issued, OKeeffe, 58, and Becker, 59, were each cited for Class C misdemeanor disorderly conduct — fighting. Even if convicted, neither councilman faces removal from office.

The city charter provides that only convictions of certain high misdemeanors and felonies would result in a removal from office.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5344 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

(50) comments

Amanda DeVries

What should be of the most concern is why were there a select few discussing budget issues after an already cancelled meeting?

TJ Aulds Staff
TJ Aulds

Zmmom we are asking about that as well.... Thus why we noted it in our story

Michelle Aycoth

Yeah, that's a real headscratcher. Where's the transperancy? And where are the concequences for such horrible conduct from two city leaders??

Kathy Porterfield

They have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

Raymond Lewis

Yes zmmom that should be a concern but two electd officials going at it like a couple of kids should be of equal or greater concern as well. Kind of unbelievable.

Kathy Templeton

Kids get expelled for this type of behavior. Maybe these two "gentlemen" should be expelled from their positions on council. Come on guys - we expect more!!

Mick Phalen

not unexpected - - looks like someone finally stood up to Becker's arrogant bullying ...


Becker is a bully. I don't know who is at fault for this fight, but anyone can watch council meeting videos to see that Becker bullies the other council members.

Lars Faltskog

And folks in this municipality, a few weeks ago, desired to "go national" about the wonders of "carrying" concealed weapons? And, our 2nd amendment, by golly, must not be compromised? Here's an example right in our back yard to how routine concealed weapon possession could get out of hand. I can see future stories: a "mere fist fight gets out of hand, weapons drawn."

What a terrible example to show to our county, state, and nation. Geez, folks out in suburbia sure do get hot under the collar. They need to take a chill pill and go sailing in one of those new League City "city-insignia" motif boats.

Shelly Pearl

sverige1.......coulda' shoulda', woulda', Comon, that is a pretty thin statement regarding our 2nd amendment. I agree this was a bad example of city government, but that does not mean there is going to be a meeting on Main St. to see who can draw the quickest. REALLY[ohmy]

Miceal O'Laochdha

At last, something entertaining...

Kathy Porterfield

When watching the Live Streaming of city council meetings, I have witnessed the, "school yard bullying" by more than just one council person. Not just Dan Becker.

Nick Long

How is this an example of how concealed carry could get out of hand?

Larry Kirkendall

It not, unless other posters seek to twist it.

Shelly Pearl

Because the person who brought that up has to be seeking the spotlight or is a friend of Obama. Trite but true guns don't kill people, people kill people.[crying]

Kevin Lang

Although guns seem to provide the testicle they wouldn't have if they had to settle it with words and fists.

Mike Meador

You pay zillions in taxes in League City for these morons! Maybe they need to move to LaMarque and run for the school board.

Lars Faltskog

Response to shellypearl posted at 1:43 pm on Thu, Jun 20, 2013,
Response to Nickl posted at 2:15 pm on Thu, Jun 20, 2013:

A very plausable scenario - Two city officials (or anyone else) progress into a heated discussion. One (or both) become irrational (as in this case) and one of them lets his emotions get the best of him. The fist fight turns more violent as one reaches for his gun from his holster.

This "is an example of how concealed carry could get out of hand". Happens quite often in our society.

Stephen Murphy

You are so full of it. It does not happen "quite often in our society."

Concealed carry permit holders are the least likely to pull a firearm during any kind of altercation. In fact, the Texas Department of Public Safety published a list of crimes committed in Texas in 2011 by everyone convicted and by those convicted who also held CCLs. The bottom line: Concealed carry permit holders commit less than 1% of the crimes. If you want to be exact, they committed two tenths of one percent of the crimes in 2011. And not all of those involved firearms or violence. The data show that 63,679 people were convicted of a long list of crimes. Of those 63 thousand, only 120 were CCL holders.

So, before stating something is a "very plausable (sp) scenario", get your facts straight instead of spouting off with your liberal drink-the-KoolAid propaganda.

Kevin Lang

I think the more valuable statistics to look at would be what percentage of the total population those 63,679 represent and what percentage of all CHL holders that 120 represents.

Shelly Pearl

I agree Galv Tx Guy


I'm sorry cougargator but to me it just shows that these type of situations don't only happen in La Marque like everyone thinks. It happens in every city. I really don't see where slamming La Marque has to do with your incompetent Board memebers. Do you think just because people live in League City it can't happen there as well? No there are good and bad people in both cities.

Kathy Porterfield

What began as a political argument in League City turned to fists flying Wednesday at City Hall.

When the dust cleared, Council members Dan Becker and Dennis OKeeffe found themselves holding misdemeanor citations for disorderly conduct-fighting, handed to them by League City police.

Council members were at City Hall, 300 W. Walker St., to discuss the city's planned $48 million-plus budget for 2013-14 with Mayor Tim Paulissen, City Manager Mike Loftin and the city's financial officer, the mayor said.
The three city officials planned to meet with Becker and Councilwoman Heidi Thiess, when two other council members appeared - Joanna Sharp Dawson and OKeeffe.

"They (council members) showed up and we had a quorum," the mayor said. "All I can tell you is that an altercation did happen between Becker and OKeeffe. The police were called and citations for disorderly conduct were issued to both."
By Robert Stanton - June 20, 2013 - Houston Chronicle

Kathy Porterfield

Mayor Tim Paulissen said, "We need to move forward as a team to get better communication between our members of City Council."

Our team will be comprised of myself, City Manager Mike Loftin, the city's financial officer, Becker and Councilwoman Heidi Thiess.

Joanna Sharp Dawson and OKeeffe, you two are not part of my team.

Kathy Porterfield

The Mayor said "They (council members) showed up and we had a quorum,"

Transparency and open government is alive and well here in League City, Texas! NOT!

Dorothy Holt

Wow! How embarrassing can this be to LC, not to mention the two "nuts" who wanted to whup some ass. Come on folks, believe in what you believe, be firm in what you believe but let the others have their beliefs, too. Run these two nuts out of town.

Mick Phalen

After the coup, Becker will name himself Dear Leader, Theiss will be Secretary of Armaments, and Bentley, Director of Technology.

Welcome to the Banana Republic of League City.

JT Edwards

Ummm didn't you lose an election because of your attitude there Mick? [wink]

Allan Knape

Was it at least a good fight? or one of those sissy fights? Could Dana White have made some PPV money on it?

Lyra Mitchell

I feel bad for O'Keefe. Sounds like he was trying to do his job, and got a fist in the face for his efforts. Is he just supposed to lie down and let the alleged bully pummel him? He had to defend himself if that was the case right?

Centerpointe Moderator

*NOW* can we get some genuine journalistic investigation into what goes on in League City? Will this incident finally prompt a closer look?

These two Councilmen are obviously responsible for their own exchange, but I believe that the commercial news media also bears some responsibility for what happened here. The media has an ethical watchdog type role in American society, and that function serves to significantly curtail tensions by compelling everyone to remain on the up-and-up. But when that store is not properly minded, it contributes to mounting tensions. Which, in turn, makes it more likely that inappropriate releases of tension will occur.

Kathy Porterfield

Freedom of The Press in League City?
Freedom of Speech in League City?
I am on my way to buy three copies of The Galveston Daily News.
Hey TJ, keep up the good work!

Kathy Porterfield

"Were Dawson and O'Keeffe notified of this meeting? Or was the mayor meeting with the Council member who are for his budget to plan making a run around the other two Council members. Does Texas have an open meeting law? If so, this meeting sounds like a violation."

"If Dawson and O'Keeffe were purposely not notified of this meeting the people of League City have some house cleaning to do."

Comment @ chron.com

Mick Phalen

Gigem, This has always been Becker's style - Difference now is he has a couple of willing accomplices .....

Kathy Porterfield

After the resignation of Dan and Dennis, there will be a secret, illegal meeting held to appoint Pat H. and Joe L. as interim councilmen, just like back in the good old days.

Kim Etheridge

Children are expelled from school for less than this. There needs to be a consequence bigger than a ticket to set an example. I voted for one of these men but now I know he does not represent my values. They both need to go.


Adult acting STUPID!!! They should have gotten assault charges filed.

Bob Maiberger

I know Dan Becker quite well and do not live in League City so I don't have a dog in this budget work. As a councilman, he approaches his duty to the people of the community as well as his fellow taxpayers of the nation as one in the same. We are broke folks and he is committed to finding the most intelligent and efficient ways to save tax dollars with a minimum disruption of services. He doesn't suffer fools and that may come across to some as being difficult and he will stand his ground. I think the fact that a budget discussion ended in a fight between a councilman who was invited to a meeting and a councilman who inserted himself into the meeting is a direct reflection on how dysfunction our political system has become and for that we should all hang our heads in shame.

Jeremy Winter

Did Mr. Okeefe and Ms. Sharp attempt to interupt an illegal meeting? I believe that the fat lady may be holding out on her song. Who is captian of the ship? Look at the things LC spends big money on... Changing logos from a tree that we spent aproxx. 200k defending to a sailboat. This is not Rocket Science. Leadership 101.

Kathy Porterfield

Dennis OKeeffe is a fool?

I think the fact that a budget discussion ended in a fight between a councilman who was invited to an (illegal) meeting and a councilman who inserted himself into the (illegal) meeting is a direct reflection on how dysfunction our political system has become and for that we should all hang our heads in shame.

The councilman who inserted himself into the (illegal) meeting was also approaching his duty to the people who still believe in Democracy.

Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an - equal - say in the decisions that affect their lives.

Jeremy Winter

I have faith that Mr. Okeefe went to rhe meetimg to do his job. What actually happened between the two men causing a fight is pure speculation. I believe it is fair to say that had the meeting been 100% transparent, we would know the truth. That causes me to question Leadership.

Jeremy Winter

Mr. Lang,

What do you think? Should LC citizens hold leadership accountable? Is the mayor a man of Integrity?

Jeremy Winter

Mr. Lang,

If you are unable to respond then please call Andy Mann and see what he thinks.

Kathy Porterfield

Who was the "whistleblower" that leaked the private meeting info to OKeeffe and Dawson? Does League City have rules to protect whistleblowers?

Kevin Lang

winmack, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to respond to. So far, the only things I've put my two cents into on this subject are related to the side issue regarding the lack of guns in this fight, and I hope that for this fight that the guns stay home.

On this issue, I think it's stupid to get into fisticuffs over politics to begin with.

I do tend to agree with what Heber Taylor wrote--why was a private meeting needed for this discussion to begin with. If people had questions, why didn't they bring them up in a public meeting? Were they hoping to avoid looking like a fool while asking stupid questions, or were they hoping to get the answers to good questions so they could try to make other council members look foolish in the open meetings?

In any event, it seems to me to be wise to ask both stupid and good questions in an open forum. Most likely, they're not going to ask many questions that others aren't also asking.

Jeremy Winter

Mr. Lang,

Fair enough, I agree that the private meetings can easily become an integrity issue. Some months back I sat at a Council meeting and Listened to Mr. Mann say how important Transparancy was, only to later hear him say, "In the same meeting" that he also see's the need for closed door meetings. ???

Kathy Porterfield

The old Indian said, "Beware of white man with forked tongue, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth."

Kevin Lang

Personnel discussions are fair game for closed doors, but, for public entities, much of anything else that requests privacy should be evaluated intensely to see if it's worth discussing if it can't be done in public. Government entities would be well advised to look for more ways to be open rather than looking for ways to go behind closed doors.

Jeremy Winter

If the issue concerns the voters in any capacity, I see no excuse for private meetings. I realize they may legally dance around the rules but look at the results. I hope GCDN follows up with an article that digs a little deeper into why LC 's leadership allows these private meetings.

Lars Faltskog

Response to GalvTexGuy posted at 6:29 pm on Thu, Jun 20, 2013:

Well, my comment seemed to have struck a nerve, the type of nerve that does not bode well with gun possession at a particular given time.

Cool off, calm down. My point stands - two city officials like this should not resort to fists, esp. if this particular boring/sleepy bedroom city (LC) is trying to tout the wonders of gun ownership and "carrying". Reasonable statement - not liberal, not conservative...but reasonable. Furthermore, if these two individuals were to be "concealed" weapon holders previously, then NOW they should not be trusted with carrying weapons, and definitely not be trusted with going along with LC's insane attempt to be in the national spotlight of being concealed weapon carrying proponents.

Call all the names you like, "full of it", "liberal"...it simply does not bode well.

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