Lab jab. An editorial in the Daily Herald raises a vexing question: how do you measure the value of a government program? Query follows Sen. Dick Durbin’s plea to ignore a $2 billion budget cut to Fermilab and Argonne Laboratories because their scientific research is critical.

  • Call waiting. Watch part 2 of the BGA/FOX investigation of slow police response times to 911 calls on Chicago’s West Side, which focuses on the city’s admission that they’re overwhelmed and need a “diversion plan” for non-emergency calls. BGA calls on the city to release 911 response data so the public can assess the scope and severity of the problem.
  • Pro-pension post. Mark Brown takes a sympathetic look at public employee pensions in his Sun-Times column, comparing them to private sector pensions, which are frequently more generous and less onerous.
  • Pro-pension poll. Americans, by a margin of 60 percent to 33 percent, say that government should not weaken the collective bargaining power of public employee unions and are 56 percent to 37 percent against cutting pay and benefits of government workers, according to a New York Times report on their poll with CBS News.
  • Corruption or crap? The Daily Herald reports on new corruption charges against McHenry State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi and two aides for allegedly going easy on defendants in exchange for campaign contributions. Bianchi’s lawyer calls the charges a “pile of crap.”
  • Elm-hurts. The Trib reports that Elmhurst School District 205 may lay off 12 teachers and seven support staff members to cope with a $3 million budget shortage. But they want to spend $184,000 on a director of research and assessment.
  • Hinz hails. Crain’s Greg Hinz puts his cynical self on hold long enough to write about three good government episodes: Cook County’s lean Preckwinkle budget, Chicago Board of Election’s rapid election returns and lame-duck Mayor Daley’s renewed push for sensible gun laws.