Oroville follows suit: Following a similar and highly controversial move at the county a while back, the city of Oroville decided this week to raise fees for most city services, in some cases by hundreds of dollars. The increase is supposed to apply only to so-called special services, those that don’t benefit the entire community, such as burn permits, conditional-use permits and the like. A study commissioned by the city found that such services were being subsidized by the general fund to the tune of millions of dollars. Raising permit fees has become a common tactic among cash-strapped local governments, which are unable to raise property taxes. Despite widespread opposition to fee and tax hikes in Oroville, no one at Tuesday’s meeting opposed the decision.

Teachers not so radio-friendly: The California Teachers Association (CTA) launched a statewide radio ad this week calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to “stop balancing the budget on the backs of our children.”

The radio ads, which are running on 56 stations, including Spanish- and Asian-language stations, feature three teachers talking about how over-sized classrooms and limited textbooks are making it difficult for children to learn. The ad also explains how budget cuts have forced schools to lay off librarians, counselors and other important school staff.

A RAND Corp. report released Jan. 3 documents the decline of educational funding in California over the last few decades. The report criticizes the state for being among the lowest in per-student funding, having the most overcrowded classrooms and for having some of the lowest-paid teachers in the nation.

In the ad, CTA President Barbara E. Kerr says, “It’s time for lawmakers to keep their word and provide our schools with the resources our kids need to succeed.”

Coke machine: The Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force busted an apartment on Magnolia Avenue this week that was allegedly being used as a storefront for cocaine sales. When officers served a warrant Tuesday at 1154 Magnolia #2, they reportedly found a half-pound of toot-sweet, along a with a loaded .357 Magnum, a rifle, baggies, scales and other tools of the dealer trade.

Three individuals at the apartment were detained and booked on charges ranging from possession for sale to committing a felony while armed.