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Baltimore County Council approves outside legal contracts for religious lawsuits, labor negotiations

The Baltimore County Council on Tuesday approved several contracts with private attorneys to handle legal work.

The largest agreement was a $1.5 million contract with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP to handle a series of federal lawsuits claiming county zoning actions illegally blocked residents from freely practicing their religion.

Five different religious groups have sued the county over zoning issues in the past several years.

Another is a roughly $87,000 contract for the firm Harris Jones & Malone to handle labor negotiations for county government this year. Firm member Sean R. Malone is a former labor commissioner for the city of Baltimore. The county is negotiating with six public employee unions. Labor negotiations were previously handled by human resources director George Gay, who retired last year.

A third contract is with attorney Jeffrey Dobson to review foreclosure cases for the Circuit Court. The contract provides up to $62,000 annually over six years to review foreclosure files for compliance with state law.

The council’s seven members approved each contract unanimously.

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