Earlier this month, Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King created a poster with a picture of Pikes Peak, the word "hope" at the top and Psalms 71:14-18 at the bottom.
... as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more ...
It was a personal thing, King says, "to remind myself of my personal commitment of trying to do good things for the city."
When he shared the poster with friends, they suggested he also share it with Mayor Steve Bach, because they were concerned about the deteriorating relationship between the two, King says. So he did. But before long, he learned that Bach was characterizing it as the Council president's attempt to rebrand the city.
And just like that, the olive branch became a thicket of thorns.
"It was nothing, nothing at all about me trying to rebrand the city," King tells the Independent, clearly aware of the potential for trouble in defining the city's identity biblically. "So where he got that idea and how he wanted to totally, totally misrepresent me in what that was about, is unbelievable."
And it was hardly the first time, says King.
"Everything gets turned and twisted ... I'm not trying to get his job. I don't want his job. I'm trying to work with him in a very productive and collaborative way in the city. And this type of thing happens, and it's disappointing to me, very disappointing."
Asked to respond to King's comments, Bach said Monday through a spokesman, "The Mayor is looking forward to meeting [Tuesday] with City Council, in an informal discussion, regarding the City's long-range planning. He continues to work on building relationships with President King and all members of Council."
President Pro Tem Merv Bennett was at the meeting where King shared the poster with Bach. "I just remember Keith gave it to the mayor, and he gave me a copy as well, and said it was something he had put together that identified his reason for serving. That's really all it was."
But sometime later, Bach told other Councilors, including Jill Gaebler, something else. "He said that Keith showed him a four-color poster that Keith wanted to use to rebrand the city, or it was an idea of rebranding the city, and he said specifically it included a Psalm, and he has mentioned it to me several times," Gaebler says. "He wasn't negative about it. He didn't make fun of it. He was just relating the information."
Gaebler says she talked to King, who assured her he wasn't into the rebranding business. "He said it was just something he uses for his own inspiration, a guide of how to conduct himself." While Gaebler adds, "There's a lot more to this story," she declines to elaborate.
Though he's just three months into his Council service — and demurs when asked to detail other issues — King says he's tired of being put on the defensive by the mayor. "I ran a business in this city for 25 years," he says. "I served in the Legislature and on school boards, and I've had a lot of integrity in what I've done. I don't know why he would go around saying these types of things about me.
"I want an opportunity for us to work together without him going around and talking bad," King continues. "I don't know why he wants to attack people like this. I just don't get it."