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Loughran alleges political retaliation after staffer fired from Legislature

Erie County Legislature Chairman Peter Savage fired a staffer linked to Legislator Thomas Loughran of Amherst on Monday, less than a week after Loughran cast the sole vote against Savage for chairman.

Staffer Kevin Kirwan had been hired by former Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant, on Loughran's recommendation, and joined the Legislature's central staff in 2012 as an assistant for the Democrats. Kirwan, previously a legislative aide in Loughran's office, handled general clerical functions for the Legislature as a central staffer.

Over the past year, Loughran has regularly broken ranks with his Democratic colleagues on key votes, including votes related to the Erie County Water Authority and the 2019 county budget. Loughran also considered taking a role as part of a new majority coalition that could have marginalized other Democratic legislators.

Kirwan said Savage told him Monday a management decision had been made to terminate him, with no other explanation offered. Kirwan said he recognizes he worked as an at-will employee at the pleasure of the chairman.

Loughran said Tuesday that it seems obvious the decision to fire Kirwan, who has no history of poor performance, was political payback for Loughran's independent voting record and taken out on an innocent party.

"All I ever heard was high praise for Kevin’s work," he said. "And what is Peter’s explanation for terminating Kevin?"

The News sought to speak with Savage, D-Buffalo, but Democratic caucus spokesman Erich Weyant declined to make Savage available and said the Legislature would have no comment on personnel matters.

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