#30 – Professor Kincaid and Nicole Beckett on the Meyner Center for Local Governments and how federalism shapes government today

Posted by: on May 12th, 2023

Professor John Kincaid is a world renowned scholar on American federalism with many distinguished honors and is Director of the Meyner Center for State and Local Governments at Lafayette College in Easton Pennsylvania. As Associate Director of Public Service, and former Borough Manager, Nicole Beckett provides outreach and works directly with local governments.


Nicole Beckett has 21 years of experience in municipal management in northeast Pennsylvania, including 12 years as the Borough Manager in Lehighton, where she managed a full-service municipality with a total budget of $20 million. She has a Masters of Public Administration degree and a Bachelors of Arts degree from Kutztown University. She has extensive experience in finance and budgeting, labor contract negotiation, zoning and code enforcement, police, public works, economic development and public power. She is a member of the International City and County Managers Association and the Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Managers.

John Kincaid is the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and Director of the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Section on Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations of the American Political Science Association, Distinguished Scholar Award from the Section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management of the American Society of Public Administration, and Distinguished Scholar Award from RC28: Comparative Federalism and Multilevel Governance of the International Political Science Association. He served as Senior Editor of the Global Dialogue on Federalism, a joint project of the Forum of Federations and International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (2001-2015); Editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism (1981-2006); and Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Washington, D.C. (1988-1994). He is the author of various works on federalism and intergovernmental relations, editor of A Research Agenda for Federalism Studies (Elgar 2019) and Federalism (Sage 4 vols, 2011) and co-editor of Teaching Federalism: Multi-Dimensional Approaches (Elgar 2022), Courts in Federal Countries: Federalists or Unitarists? (Toronto 2017), Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Comparative Structures and Dynamics (Oxford 2015), Political Parties and Civil Society in Federal Countries (Oxford 2015), Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism (2013), Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries (McGill-Queen’s 2005), and The Covenant Connection: From Federal Theology to Modern Federalism (2000).

Resource for more information about Federalism: https://federalism.org/](https://federalism.org/)


3:54 The Meyner Center opened in 1994 when I came to Lafayette from Washington, DC as the first director of the center…

8:56 We typically meet weekly and it, it’s great to be able to share what goes on out in the world of local government and bring that back.

10:00 Some of the highlights…were being in Moscow in 1991 during the transition from Mikhail Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin….

12:20 Help us understand why federalism is important to understand today.

17:19 What are the constraints or rights are that are inherent in our system from the perspective of local government?

18:07 Virtually all public policy today is intergovernmental….

20:07 The founders are very concerned also that the federal government be rooted in the people, but it’s indirectly rooted in the people…

23:42 Nationalization of state and local politics.

25:02 One of the things the minor center is working and moving toward is trying to promote more education, particularly for elected officials in local governments as to what exactly are the functions of local governments and how they should carry out their responsibilities.

25:51 And over the last. Five, six years, you’re, we’re really starting to see it in the field, which adds a whole new complexity to the profession because you already have a stressful job.

34:10 local governments and state governments need to make strategic decisions now as how best to invest this money for the long term in terms of appropriate infrastructure, improvements in education and so on.

35:40 And political science research is starting the show now that people have a higher level of trust in their local government if it has better online presence and services, and it’s easy to access.

38:40 Privatization. Do local governments have the authority to decide what they do or don’t provide?

44:16 Regionalization – a way of benefiting economies of scale and um, more efficiency in public service provision.

About Nancy J. Hess

I help leaders pioneer extraordinary change through high engagement and whole systems approaches that focus on HR and People.