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By Laura Nahmias

May 24, 2011

At a candidate forum last night in upper Manhattan, all the candidates running for Rep. Charlie Rangel‘s seat showed up – except for Rangel. During a press conference earlier yesterday, Rangel said he was unaware of the debate. But a spokeswoman later said in an email that the congressman had a scheduling conflict, and the debate moderator said Rangel had canceled several days ago. During the very civil four-way conversation, the longtime incumbent was not discussed much, except when State Sen. Adriano Espaillat was asked about a bill Rangel had sponsored. “I’m glad he’s a co-sponsor, but I’m disappointed he’s not here,” Espaillat said, adding that he wanted to have a “vigorous debate across the community.” Rangel also did not show up for similar candidate events at the Ben Franklin Democratic Club in the Bronx and Barack Obama Democratic Club in Manhattan.

* In the wake of last month’s New York Times bombshell report that Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials and then covered it up, Walmart Free NYC is targeting one of the retail giant’s board members who the coalition says could be tied up in the scandal. Michele Burns, who served on the company’s audit committee in 2005 when the bribes were allegedly covered up, is set to join Goldman Sachs as chair of the investment bank’s audit committee. So this morning, the anti-Wal-Mart coalition is planning to rally outside Goldman Sachs’ shareholder meeting in Jersey City to draw attention to Burns’ appointment. “She has refused to say what, if anything, she knew and when she knew it,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, a member of the coalition, predicting that over 100 people would show up to protest. “So we will be going there to question that.”

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