Thirty years ago, the city decided to create a merit pay system that would allow high-performing department heads to earn up to $1,000 extra every year for doing a stellar job.
What happened instead, perhaps predictably, is that everybody who could earn the extra cash got it after performance reviews showed they were uniformly terrific at their jobs.
When somebody got shortchanged one year, a political firestorm erupted, and officials agreed in the late 1980s to resolve it by dropping the evaluations completely while continuing to hand out the bonuses.
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