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Building the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0

February 6, 2012

This is what you want. This is what you get. For the past couple of years, I have been managing a campaign to take back the Times Union’s Best of the Capital Region poll from the mediocrity that has pervaded it for so long.

Here’s the logic.

Last year, based on the paper’s own numbers, there were nearly 15,000 ballots cast in the survey. That may seem like a lot, and frankly it is. However, if we all joined together, and brought our friends, family and coworkers in on the scheme, we could form a powerful voting block that could influence the results.

But—and this is a big but—it only works if we all vote on a common slate of local businesses.

This was why I created the FUSSYlittleBALLOT. The idea isn’t that the businesses on the slate are the best of the best. Rather, that we can all agree that these businesses are among the best, and far better from some of the other schlock that’s been praised by the paper.

While the slate was never just one person’s opinion, people had a problem voting for a scheme in which they had no direct input. So this year, that part is going to change. It’s time to explain how it’s going to work.

Over the next several weeks, in advance of the Times Union’s release of the 2012 questionnaire (which typically comes out the first week of April) you and I will be discussing what places are indeed the best of the region and why.

I’m calling this Phase Two. If you missed Phase One, just take a peek on the upper right hand corner of the page. It’s not too late to add your signature to the open letter.

Now let’s be clear on one thing. This isn’t a poll and it’s not a vote. It’s a fact-finding mission and it’s a chance for you to make yourself heard. The comments that I receive during Phase Two will greatly influence what businesses ultimately make it onto the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0. However if I get a bunch of ballot stuffers on here trying to convince me that Coccadotts should be the best bakery, they should know in advance they will just be wasting their time (sorry Rachel).

We do need people to come together for this to work. So here’s the plan.

Instead of telling me which business you think is THE BEST, I want to know your top three, in rank order. And I’ll also be asking for a bit more thought than just a list of three establishments. In this case, the why is just as important as the what.

Naturally I will be asking for individual locations, as I hope Phase One has some kind of impact on the 2012 ballot.

We will start this process on Wednesday. For the sake of everyone’s well being, categories will be grouped together. So start thinking about what it means to be the best grocery store. Since this will fundamentally be about where you go and buy ingredients to cook with, we’ll also include the best ethnic markets and farmers markets.

It’s a lot to tackle. But I really only want to do one of these a week. Otherwise this project could take almost every day until April. And there’s a lot more to fuss about than just the Times Union.

Take, for example, all those unanswered questions. I hope to get to those tomorrow.

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