Race Relations Panel Far Behind Schedule
Work could go on an extra year; Clinton invites affirmative action foes to White House
By Wolf Blitzer/CNN
WASHINGTON (Dec. 4) -- President Bill Clinton's originally planned "yearlong" study of race relations in America is already way behind schedule and is likely to continue for at least a year and a half and possibly even two years, CNN has learned.
Administration officials say that is the conclusion following the president's first town hall meeting on race in Akron, Ohio, on Wednesday.
"We now realize we have a lot of work to do," says one source.
So instead of releasing the report with its recommendations next June, as originally suggested, it is now likely to slip until at least the end of next year and possibly even early in 1999.
On June 14, the president kicked off his high-profile study of race in America with a speech at the University of California at San Diego. At that time, Clinton suggested a final report by his advisory panel, chaired by Professor John Hope Franklin, would be issued in a year.
Clinton has said that improving race relations in America is one of his so-called major "legacy" issues.
But aides say the panel has been very slow in getting off the ground. There have also been extensive criticism of the president for supposedly not including people with more conservative views, especially prominent African Americans who disagree with the president on affirmative action.
With that in mind, the White House is sending invitations to several of the country's most outspoken critics of affirmative action, including California University Regent Ward Connerly, to attend a meeting at the White House with the president. That session is now tentatively slated for later this month, before Christmas.
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