ORLANDO-Defeating the telecommunications industry on its aggressive move to require mandatory access to office buildings was the crowning touch on a list of achievements Bert Locke managed to direct in his two years as president of the Florida chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association.

“Overcoming the telecom industry’s efforts to seize real estate holdings from private property owners has been a chore,” Locke tells GlobeSt.com. “The education of the state’s Public Service Commission and those state legislators, who were misled, proved to be an uphill battle.”

BOMA’s strategy in winning the legislative battle was “sending letters and faxes, making countless phone calls and walking the halls in Tallahassee (the state capital) to get our concerns heard,” the broker says.

What frustrated Locke and his team was realizing the Public Service Commission sided with BOMA but BOMA still had to make its case. “In spite of the PSC’s own staff’s findings, as well as our private property rights as defined by the Constitution, we had to work hard to get our message across,” Locke says.

Five local BOMA chapters gathered as BOMA Florida “for the single purpose of protecting our interests in Tallahassee,” the broker says.

But the fight isn’t over, Locke cautions. “Now that we’re seeing term-limits turnover, and a significant overhaul of the PSC, we’ll need to commit our resources again to ensure we educate the decision-makers,” he stresses. “We need to make certain they are confident to allow the marketplace to determine the best course of action, rather than creating legislation in an area where it is neither needed nor warranted.”

Leading the BOMA charge against the telecommunications industry were Chuck Levin in Tampa, BOMA lobbyists Lee Moffit and Orlando attorney John L. Brewerton III, and Fort Lauderdale commercial broker D.K. Mink. “They were instrumental in reshaping the organization’s political agenda,” Locke says.

Besides the office building access issue, BOMA’s legislative successes in the past two years include working on a statewide commercial building code, defeating several miscellaneous municipal tax code proposals and helping to “alleviate discrepancies” in the Federal Americans for Disabilities Act.

BOMA “experienced something of a political epiphany more than seven years ago when Florida instituted a sales tax on services,” Locke recalls. “What a huge wakeup call that was.”

Shortly afterward, he ran for a seat on BOMA Florida’s executive committee and won. Over the next three years, he helped lead a major restructuring of the organization.

“We evolved from an organization whose leadership focused on serving BOMA International to one that focused on serving the needs of Florida office building owners, developers, investors and management professionals,” Locke says. “Now, most of the leadership not only knows who we are, but knows where we stand on every one of the issues that affect our industry.”

He adds, “The battles ahead are even more important to our industry. We have to honor our leaders and cultivate literally dozens more like them.”

Locke is a senior property manager with PM Realty Group in Orlando.

Chris Prather with Insignia ISG in Tampa replaces Locke as the new BOMA Florida president. Other newly-elected officers are John Scott, Hogan Group, Miami, vice president; Murray Greene, Jones Lang LaSalle Americans Inc., Miami, treasurer; and Karon Reichenbach, Chase Business Services, Jacksonville, secretary.

D.K. Mink, president of Mink & Mink Inc., Fort Lauderdale, was re-elected legislative chair. Jack Goodrich, Crescent Real Estate Equities, Miami, is vice chair.

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