At the heart of Cr Vicki Curran's motion to Wollongong City Council this week was the issue of transparency.
Yes, there is value in councillors being briefed before voting on complex matters.
Yes, it makes sense to give councillors ample opportunity to ask questions to be sure they have everything they need to make informed decisions.
And yes, briefings might make council more efficient by reducing the number of decisions that are deferred when councillors don't have enough information to vote.
But if the value of the briefings is not in question, the public has a legitimate interest in how they are conducted.
That would be true for any council but it is especially true for this particular council.
It is only six years since this city was rocked by the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings that exposed just how much of our city's planning happened behind closed doors.
Voters are now naturally cautious about the possibility of decisions being made behind closed doors and are scrutinising this council - the first elected since the scandal - to ensure there is no repeat of that shameful past.
That is why it is important that council's decision-making process - not just the decisions themselves but the process - is transparent.
For as long as the trauma of 2008 remains fresh in this city's memory, this council has a special duty to ensure greater transparency, not less.
ICAC thought so. In the wake of the corruption hearings, it made 27 recommendations.
All aimed at making council more transparent and accountable.
Surely councillors can see that in the collective mind of a public that was oh-so recently cheated, moving some discussion from the public arena to the closet can only arouse suspicions and accusations of undue influence - whether unfounded or not?
One of the touted benefits of closed-session briefings is that they will streamline council's public meetings.
But by reducing the need for councillors to ask questions and debate the issues in public, the public's ability to form its own judgments will also be impaired.
The public has the right not only to understand the issues, but also to judge councillors' own performance. What questions do they ask? How well do they debate?
One solution is to continue the briefings but make them open.
Perhaps they could be webcast. That would certainly have the benefit of being cheap.
Publishing an agenda beforehand and minutes afterwards, as is done now with any council committee meeting, would also offer some semblance of public scrutiny.
But we have another solution to offer, as well. The Mercury is more than willing to assign a journalist to attend and report on these briefings to keep residents informed.