Both citizens and the media tend to focus on state and national politics, but local government activities often have a greater impact on our daily lives. Cities, countries, and school district s make decisions affecting the traffic on our streets, the quality and quantity of our water, the comfort and safety of our neighborhoods, the education of our children, and the assistance available to those of us who fall on hard times. Local government is also where citizens can have their greatest influence, simply because it is closer than Sacramento for the Californian government and Washington D.C. for the national government. But although local governments are accountable to the citizens they serve, they are also agencies of the state of California. Local governments are created by state law, which assigns them their rights and duties, mandating some functions and activities and prohibiting others. The state also allocates taxing powers and snares revenues with local governments at any time, expanding or reducing their tasks, their funding, and their independence.