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Buffalo's director of substance abuse services, Lewis E. Paige, 44, has been fired for "incompatibility," according to a top aide to Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.

Paige has been replaced by former Erie County Youth Services Commissioner L. Nathan Hare.

Masiello's chief of staff, Vincent J. LoVallo, said Paige was dismissed earlier this month because he had difficulty relating to both his staff and top city officials.

"We needed to go in a different direction to serve the clients of the program," LoVallo said. "He served at the pleasure of the mayor. I removed him."

Paige, who was appointed in 1995 to the $54,979 job as head of the substance abuse program, denied there was friction between him and other city officials. He blamed his former supervisor, Senior Deputy Human Services Commissioner Donald Allen, for the dismissal, claiming Allen refused to meet with him or to discuss issues about the program.

"He (Allen) cut off all lines of communication . . . it was one of those political things," Paige contended.

But LoVallo denied Paige's complaints, saying politics was not involved. "We don't play politics here. We try to offer good government," he said.

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