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On the subject of bad press . . .

State Senator Anna Cowin got more than her share of bad press last week, when the Wall Street Journal's Florida edition tabbed her as one of the state Legislature's "falling stars."

Cowin, R-Leesburg, whose district includes east Citrus, was hot in 1999, the newspaper said. But during the just-ended legislative session, "she earned a reputation for talking too much and filing too many last-minute amendments," the newspaper reported.

State Senator Jack Latvala, the Senate majority leader, didn't exactly throw water on the fire.

"She's irritated about every member of Senate, Democrat or Republican," Latvala told the Journal. "I"ve tried to get her to temper her style, but so far, she hasn't."

Cowin offered no apologies, saying she fights for her constituents.

CAN'T TAKE THEM ANYWHERE: At an elegant table in Universal Studio's Soundstage 33, School Board members Patience Nave and Pat Deutschman were sitting next to one another to celebrate Lecanto Middle School teacher Jim Manos' selection as Region II Burdines 2001 Florida Teacher of the Year.

A little ceramic shopping bag at each table setting held a rose. Thinking there could be other goodies inside the bag, Nave turned hers upside down, creating a big wet spot on the tablecloth in front of her.

Shortly after that, Deutschman was putting her program down but first dipped it into her butter.

Later, there was a crash in another part of the room and Nave commented that at least she hadn't knocked over her table.

DON'T BRING THOSE REPTILES 'ROUND HERE: Also last week, Seminole fan Circuit Judge Patricia Thomas recognized outstanding high school seniors at the 13th annual Senior Scholastic and Scholarship Awards Recognition Dinner at Andre's of Citrus Hills.

As Thomas introduced each student, she mentioned his or her accomplishments, grade point averages and plans for college. Several students were headed to Florida State University, and a clearly pleased Thomas couldn't resist commenting on that.

When she introduced Crystal River High School valedictorian Shannon Lowe, however, the judge got a surprise. Lowe, who is bound for the University of Florida, went up to the stage, looked straight at Thomas and, with arms extended, greeted the judge with a big Gator chomp.

_ Times staff writers Jim Ross and Paulette Lash Ritchie compiled this report.