Pen pals! Paper’s letters-page mainstay wants to start in-person forum

Brooklyn Daily
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An avid Courier Life reader wants to bring our “Sound off to the Editor” section to life!

Marine Parker — and prodigious submitter of letters to the editor — Robert Lobenstein, who often spars with fellow readers in Courier Life’s opinions pages, wants to his fellow pen pals to assemble at the Carmine Carro Center for a debate moderated by this news organization. It would be a way to put faces to names for all the people who exchange ideas in this paper’s printed forum, Lobenstein said.

“You get a constant flow of regulars that always submit letters — this should be an open invitation to them,” Lobenstein said. “I know there’s 20-some-odd people all throughout the year that put comments in. It doesn’t have to be a big group just something where you sit down, have a friendly chat, and shake hands.”

Lobenstein regularly writes in with his takes on local transit issues and the new Trump administration, but would rather bring everyone together for a moderated debate so things don’t get too out of hand — though no topic should be off limits, he said.

“That’s the purpose of the moderator, slow things down a little,” said Lobenstein. “There’s so much political correctness, if you throw certain restrictions in, then it’s not an open forum. Someone puts a valid point on the table there and changes everybody’s mind, that’s the point of having open discussions.”

This paper is on board, according to its skipper.

“Courier Life would be glad to facilitate civil discourse — as we do weekly in our well-read letters section,” said editor Vince DiMiceli, who added: “And please, visit our advertisers.”

The debate idea piqued the interest of a handful of letter-contributors, including one who said he’d travel al the way from Brooklyn’s vestigial tail, Long Island.

“I would be glad to join the discussion. I’d be very interested in having a topic on transporta­tion,” said Great Neck resident and mailbag mainstay Larry Penner.

Anyone interested in meeting up with Lobenstein can e-mail him at

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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