Even while city firefighters were celebrating Mayor James C. Galie's defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary, they and other city employees who opposed his re-election bid were steeling themselves for possible retribution.
And other City Hall workers wondered how much time Galie will spend on the job before his term expires Dec. 31. With the mayor's deadline for presenting a 2000 budget proposal to the Council only two weeks away, one department head said there have been no budget meetings yet among department heads.
Some political wags speculate that Galie might present a budget with a few zingers as a parting shot at the City Council, with whom relations have been downright hostile for much of his four-year term.
Galie, reportedly out of town, was unavailable to comment.
City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino, who was Galie's campaign manager, said that fears of retribution were unfounded and that the Oct. 1 deadline for the mayor's budget presentation to the City Council will be met.
"Certain things are already in the works, and we intend to see them through. We're going to conduct business as we always have. I certainly don't see anything new developing before the end of the year. I'll be in the office every day as normal," Restaino said.
Retribution against city employees, even firefighters with whom Galie has been locked in a bitter feud for the past three years, "doesn't make any sense," Restaino said. "We're talking three months."
Nor should anyone expect the Galie administration to propose massive layoffs or attempt to reduce salaries of department heads and exempt employees, as the Council did in 1995 prior to Galie's taking office, Restaino said.
"We absolutely intend to go out graciously. I don't believe he and I believe we have anything to be ashamed of, and we're not going to do anything in the next three months to change that. We're going to go out graciously and then move on," said Restaino.
Galie said Tuesday night that despite losing the Democratic mayoral primary 2-1 to Councilman John G. Accardo, he considered himself a winner because he now has time to enjoy retirement.
As for himself, Restaino said he didn't know his future plans yet.
Restaino said the reason there wasn't the usual round of department head meetings on the budget during the summer was partly a result of preoccupation with the primary election, partly a new computer program that has delayed producing information and partly because people were vacationing.
He said he doesn't plan to meet with the directors of smaller departments, whose budgets are pretty straightforward.
"There are really only three departments you have to look at: Public Works and Parks, Police and Fire," Restaino said.
In the Fire Department, he said, "there's not a lot there unless you went to staffing reductions, which we're not."
In the Police and Public Works and Parks departments, he said, there are some items "outside of personnel," such as equipment requests that he will meet with department heads to discuss.