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The Empire Center for Public Policy recently took a look at public payrolls for cities, counties, towns and villages in New York, and while downstate public employees did quite well, some Western New Yorkers aren’t doing too badly either. For example, Erie Community College President Jack Quinn led the list of the region’s top earners at $192,000, according to the report by the conservative-leaning think tank. Don’t get us wrong, Quinn appears to be doing a fine job, and heading a college, even at the community level, is no small job.

Neither is being a police officer or firefighter. They risk their lives for the public but it has to be considered one of the top perks of the uniform to be able to pull down a decent salary and cap it off with loads of overtime. Just ask five police officers, three with the City of Buffalo, who were among the region’s best-paid local government workers.

Still, they don’t compare to Gary H. Renick, a Long Island police officer whose base salary exceeded $100,000, and who then collected more than $306,299 when his overtime and other incentives were added.

Guess who pays?

Perhaps, if the owner of the painting “Sunset at Montmajour” had known he was in possession of an original and highly valued Vincent van Gogh painting, it might have seen the light of day.

For nearly a century, the painting was considered a fake. But the current owners were relentless in verifying its authenticity, taking it twice to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, in 1991 and then again two years ago. Time and technology finally caught up with “Sunset at Montmajour” and another work by the master will be in public view for one year, starting Sept. 24, in the Van Gogh Museum. By the way, the painting is estimated to be worth in the tens of millions of dollars.

Time to clean out the attic.

First NASA’s Voyager 1 left the building, then the launch pad, then the Earth’s gravitational pull. Now it has left the solar system. Thirty-six years after its launch, the ungainly spacecraft has left behind the influence of the sun, carrying with it the music of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Louis Armstrong and Chuck Berry. (Relax. The aliens won’t know anything about Miley Cyrus.)

It’s the first time a man-made object has left our solar system, and it’s still on the job. It will continue sending electronic data back to the Earth – that journey is only 17 hours – and it has a distance to go. It could reach the next nearest star, Alpha Centauri, in just 40,000 years. Here’s hoping it, and the Earth, survive the wait.