Honeycutt, who is leaving April 1 to serve as a manager for Alamance County, was awarded a plaque by the council as a tribute for "his dedicated public service."
"The Laurinburg City Council expresses it sincere appreciation for his unselfish and professional service to citizens of Laurinburg," Mayor Matthew Block said. "His sense of community responsiblity has made him a most valuable public servant. He has worked tirelessly and effectively to make our city a better place to live for all the citizens of Laurinburg."
But Laurinburg Councilman Curtis Leak used the moment Tuesday night to question Honeycutt about why the manager had failed to name a black that Leak had recommended to the city's management team. The 12-member team advises the city manager on policies and procedures throughout city government.
Leak said the council needed to resolve the issue before a new city manager is hired. He made a motion to name Capt. Kenneth Monroe of the police department to the management team.
"I'm sorry you're leaving but that's why I made this motion," Leak said. "I hate to kill your thunder ... but I want to be sure we have a minority on the management team this time."
Leak said he is questioned all the time by residents about the oversight. He added that it may be an issue in the upcoming election.
"We need sell Laurinburg to this community, to the state and to the nation and we are going to have to answer the question where are the minorities?" Leak said.
Honeycutt told the council that there was a black on the management team — Marcus Smith, the city's information technology director. He said he chose Smith because his job puts him in contact with all city departments. Smith has worked with the city for the past four years.
"He deals with evey piece of electronic equipment and helps with polices and issues that affect every department," Honeycutt said.
But Leak said Honeycutt knew that he wanted Monroe on the team, not Smith. Leak said Smith did not manage a department.
"I've done everything humanly possible to get the city manager to understand English. I'm not talking Japan, or no Chinese or no Italian," Leak said. "I gave you a suggestion or direction and then you get this guy that doesn't have any responsiblity but a wireless telephone. You've got a token. Craig picked him ... he picked his boy."
Honeycutt seemed to take umbrage at Leak's characterization.
"Mr. Smith is not my boy," Honeycutt said. "He is very good at what he does. I agree with Councilman Leak that we ought to have a minority, but one that reaches across the entire city."
Leak was unconvinced.
"I've cried about this. I'm not crying tonight. I am mad. M.A.D.I.E.S — mad," Leak told Honeycutt. "Thank you and thank the county that is going to pick you up."
"I thank them as well," Honeycutt said.
Council member Thomas Parker told Leak that it was wrong for the council to "micromanage" the city manager.
"In principal I agree with you on the makeup up of the management team, but we run in dangerous territory when we start managing the city of Laurinburg. That is not our job. Do we want to go out and read power meters? I think we're out of bounds.
"Mr. Honeycutt is leaving. We ought to be respectful of him ... he has done us a good job."
It was also pointed out that Police Chief Johnny Evans, who heads that department, also serves on the management team. Monroe reports to Evans.
"I don't feel that we should be putting someone on the team that not supposed to be there just because the color of his skin," Council member Amanda Faulk said.
The council shot down Leak's motion, 3 to 2, with Herbert M. Rainer Jr. and Leak voting in favor of the appointment.