Happy New Year

December 30, 2011 1:00:42 PM PST
Back in the day, the FBI ran this dubious program called CoIntelPro, a clandestine intelligence-gathering and spy operation on the nation's anti-Vietnam war movement.

It was an expensive affair and involved mostly getting information on law-abiding citizens who were exercising their Constitutional rights to assemble protest.

I know. I got a 200-or-so-page FBI file filled mostly with boring and rather routine accounts of various rallies or meetings I attended.

It was so ridiculous that when I finally got my file ? after several lengthy legal battles to get the bureau to release it ? it became a news story because there was so little "there" there.

I was thinking about my file today after more than a dozen Muslim clerics sent their regrets to Mayor Bloomberg and declined his invitation to the annual Interfaith breakfast. They refused to attend, in protest for the NYPD's controversial intelligence-gathering operation, which the clerics feel amounts to Muslim profiling and spying.

Cops believeas they did way back then that these intel-gathering methods are justified, given that the downsides of being unprepared are so grave.

And that's what NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly insisted today, again. It's all legal. And it's all good and proper police work, he suggested.

And so the Mayor's breakfast happened, with some guests obvious by their absence. And the controversy continues not heatedly, but on a low-simmer. Perhaps on both sides. We'll have any reaction to this morning's events, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, you got to hand it to Verizon at least they react quickly. Yesterday word got out that the communications giant would start charging a $2 "convenience fee" for customers using the one-time pay feature on the Verizon website.

The uproar was deafening, and today Verizon said it was, indeed, listening to its customers, and deciding to NOT implement the new fee next month.

Every year our Nina Pineda and her team at 7 On Your Side help get back hundreds of thousands of dollars for viewers were either ripped off, hoodwinked, not brilliant consumers or (fill in the blank). So on this last Friday of the year, Nina's offering tonight is to list the 7 biggest pitfalls folks make that, if they avoid them again, can save thousands in the new year.

And finally, we're in Times Square as the crossroads of the world makes its annual transformation, morphing into the nation's biggest New Year's Eve party. As always, no booze, all backpacks will be searched, and once you're there good luck trying to leave and come back.

If you aren't planning to go and that means doing without standing chest-to-back with hundreds of thousands of people, not moving, no bathrooms, for hours ? then we invite you to watch the festivities and celebration on Ch. 7. Andy Field is in Times Square for us tonight, with the preparations. And Meteorologist Lee Goldberg will offer his AccuWeather forecast for the holiday weekend.

I was trying to remember the last time I didn't work a New Year's Eve, and dang if I can. I think after consulting various schedules and searching the cobwebs of the mind that this is the first Dec. 31 I haven't worked since my tenure at Ch. 7.

With that in mind a happy and healthy New Year. This column will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 3. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.


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